On August 24, René Lévesque would have celebrated his hundredth birthday. As Presenting Partner oflevesque Year, Activation of the René Lévesque Foundation, Quebecor is proud to help spread the legacy of this larger than life figure who changed the course of our recent history and left a lasting mark on our nation and its destiny.
Paying homage to René Lévesque means fully appreciating the scope of his achievements and recognizing that the path we have traveled since then has been met with the confidence he inspired in us. While the former Prime Minister’s political career is celebrated, his past as a journalist and columnist has also left an important mark.
While the Parti Québécois elected seven MPs in the general election of April 29, 1970, its leader lost in his ride to Laurier, despite a popularity that was already moving the masses. My father, Pierre Péladeau, founder of the Journal de Montréal and the Journal de Québec, believed that a daily newspaper should reflect all points of view, so he offered René Lévesque a forum where he could freely express his opinions. It is this freedom that will convince Mr. Lévesque to embark on the adventure.
That’s 984 columns that René Lévesque will write in Le Journal for six times a week between 1970 and 1974. This imposing corpus represents a colossal amount of work, but René Lévesque, the popularizer, had this enviable ability to write relevant texts on a variety of different subjects that interested readers. The few chronicles reproduced in the pages of this issue of the journal give a good idea of the author’s talents.
Mr. Lévesque himself went into the office on the rue Port-Royal, still in his tireless beige raincoat. As he submitted his text, he mentioned to the team that he valued these columns because they represented a unique opportunity for him to speak to Quebecers and that they were a rare source of income after his defeat.
The Journal’s veteran editor-in-chief, Ives Beaudin, recalls that René Lévesque often turned in his columns late at night and that his texts were handwritten. A real headache for the journal’s teams. In 1970 we were still a long way from the internet, smartphones and computer-aided daily newspapers.
As Jacques Bourdon, one of the journal’s great photographers, reminded us, when my father was in the office when the famous columnist visited him, the two men spent long periods together, discussing Quebec affirmation, economic, cultural and social enrichment and discuss the business world, which for them was not just the prerogative of English speakers.
René Lévesque changed the way we talk about ourselves to understand our identity as forged from validation and pride. If Quebecers were “perhaps something of a great people” for René Lévesque, he remains in our history and in our collective memory as perhaps something of a great man.
Pierre Karl Peladeau
President and CEO of Quebecor
Levesque Partner of the Year