Former CEO of Quebecor to chair Hydro-Québec board

The former and sometimes controversial head of Quebecor Inc, Pierre Karl Peladeau, is about to take on a leadership role at Hydro-Québec.

Some question the Parti Québécois decision to give Pierre Karl Peladeau leadership role

Pierre Karl Peladeau, former CEO of Quebecor Inc., says he is happy to work with Hydro-Québec. (CBC)

The former, and sometimes controversial, head of Quebecor Inc, Pierre Karl Peladeau, is about to take on a leadership role at Hydro-Québec.

Premier Pauline Marois's office announced this morning Peladeau is being named the chairman of Hydro-Québec's board of directors. He will also sit as an independent member of the board.

"Mr. Peladeau is well known as a leader in business and I think he will have an important role to play at the head of the administration council of Hydro-Québec," Marois said.

Peladeau's new position will not affect the role of Thierry Vandal, who will remain Hydro-Québec's president and CEO.

Peladeau also won’t receive any payment for his role with the power utility.

A spokesperson for him said he is looking forward to contributing to the organization.

Opposition party Coalition Avenir Quebec head Francois Legault showed rare support for a Parti Québecois nomination, saying he hoped Peladeau would help trim the fat in what he called a bloated organization.

"We think we have to reduce expenses by something like $600 million, so it’s not easy," Legault said.

But it’s exactly his record as the head of one of Canada’s largest media corporations that has some concerned.

Peladeau, 51, left his post as CEO of Quebecor in March, but continues his role as chairman of its main subsidiary, Quebecor Media.

As head of the company founded by his father in the mid-1960s, Peladeau oversaw major growth for the media conglomerate.

But his 14-year tenure wasn't without incident and controversy.

Lawsuits and lockouts were not uncommon under Peladeau’s leadership, which endured a lengthy struggle with employees at Le Journal de Montreal and Le Journal de Québec, as well as a lawsuit against a Radio-Canada vice-president for allegedly defamatory remarks.

"He's a bad manager," said Québec Solidaire’s Amir Khadir.

"He is very conflictual. In the past 15 years he has had 14 lockouts, 14 conflicts with his employees."

Brian Myles, the president of the Quebec's Federation of Professional Journalists, is also concerned.

"We, as a democratic society, should expect a firewall between media owners and politicians. In this case, the firewall is broken," he said.

"I’m sure there were other candidates as skilled and good as Mr. Peladeau to hold that job."

Peladeau’s nomination to Hydro-Québec's board will take effect on May 15.