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Roméo LeBlanc, the unassuming Governor General

The Story


He is Canada's 25th Governor General and the first of Acadian heritage. On Feb. 8, 1995, Roméo LeBlanc becomes the Queen's representative in Canada. A Radio-Canada journalist turned MP and then senator, LeBlanc has maintained a low profile despite his long history on Parliament Hill. In two back-to-back segments from Prime Time News, CBC Television shows the solemn investiture ceremony and then visits LeBlanc's proud fellow Acadians in New Brunswick's Memramcook Valley.

Medium: Television
Program: Prime Time News
Broadcast Date: Feb. 8, 1995
Guests: Susan Aglukark, Jean Chrétien, Leonard LeBlanc, Roméo LeBlanc
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Paul Adams, Kas Roussy
Duration: 5:23

Did You know?


• Roméo LeBlanc was born in New Brunswick in 1927 and studied at universities in Moncton and Paris. He was a teacher in his home province for nine years before joining Radio-Canada, CBC's French service, in 1960.
 

• In 1967 he became press liaison for then-prime minister Lester Pearson and then for his successor, Pierre Trudeau. A Liberal, LeBlanc was elected as a New Brunswick member of Parliament in 1972 and was a minister under Trudeau in 1974-79 and 1980-84. He was appointed to the Senate in 1984.

 

• In November 1994, when then-prime minister Jean Chrétien announced LeBlanc as the next governor general, Reform Party leader Preston Manning criticized the choice as "unwise and inappropriate," given LeBlanc's strong Liberal ties. According to the Globe and Mail (Nov. 23, 1994), LeBlanc was not Chrétien's first choice; hockey's Jean Béliveau turned down the honour because he wanted to avoid politics.

 

• LeBlanc launched the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award in 1996 to celebrate the people who have made remarkable contributions within their families, communities and the nation. In 1999 he ushered in the Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts.

 

• In August 1999, just before departing the post, LeBlanc ordered a redesign of the governor general's crest. The crest depicted a golden lion wearing a crown, sticking out its tongue and brandishing a maple leaf in one paw. The new design removed the lion's claws, obliterated any hint of its maleness and withdrew its tongue. When she took over the office, governor general Adrienne Clarkson requested that the crest revert to its original appearance.

 

• Roméo LeBlanc passed away on June 24, 2009, after a lengthy illness. He was 81 years old.

 


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