Who, in Quebec, or the rest of Canada, will replicate Jean Lapierre. Or was he in a class by himself?
As the au courant phrase in social media (twitter, facebook, et al) goes: [So and so] “is trending…”
And the name and personality that was Jean Lapierre, a giant in the media—political commentary and analyses … anything of political import is still trending two days after his tragic death, and will undoubtedly continue on that trajectory for some time to come.
A testimony to the giant of a man he was in the world of politics, and in the last ten years or so, political commentary and analyses.
In Quebec, the man had his ears to the ground, his nose in the air, as he listened to and sniffed out all things political (even the politically unsavory, the corrupt, just name it) that was happening. The man was on everything and was able to dissect, untangle and explain just about everything to anyone with an interest in the goings-on in the province, and indeed the rest of Canada. I was one of the many people who, whenever possible, made a point of listening to Jean Lapierre—everyday if possible.
So when I got a phone call late Tuesday afternoon that started something like this: “Hey, did you hear… It’s sad… or too bad what happened to John Lapierre…” I was temporarily confused as I tried to clear my mind and de-wax my ear and wrap my head around the conversation to understand what I was hearing, and that the name mentioned was indeed what I was hearing… not John, but Jean Lapierre, his two brothers, his sister and daughter had died in a plane crash that afternoon.
All the while I was hoping what that lady was telling me was inaccurate, but someone said he had heard something about a plane crash somewhere in Quebec. As the saying goes I was still in “the denial phase.” I didn’t want to believe the breaking news.
It just couldn’t be Jean Lapierre, the former politician who for the last ten years or so had become the go-to source, the authority, the man with a finger on the pulse of socio-political matters Quebec, for just about everything… anything of socio-political import that’s happening in Quebec. The man was ubiquitous, had his ears to the ground as he traversed the province (especially at election time, or for some other political or other important event) and then in his daily radio and TV analyses let us laypeople know what’s going on.
But everything became clear when I got home and turned on the radio and TV: former politician, journalist, political analyst-commentator, one-time separatist BLOC Quebecois M.P., and federal Cabinet Minister (of Transport in the Paul Martin Liberal government) was killed in a plane crash. Unbelievable!
Just that Tuesday morning, CJAD radio morning man Andrew Carter who had a regular chat with Jean Lapierre each morning at approximately 7:40, said he had just “received a note from Jean Lapierre.” His father had died and he was preparing to head to Îles-de-la-Madeleine to help with funeral arrangements. But would be back on air next week. (The irony is that Lapierre had just returned from a weeklong vacation down south.) We all now know the details of the story. Also on the aircraft were his wife and three of his siblings, and the two-man crew, all seven of whom died.
When it was determined that Jean Lapierre, erstwhile politician, cum political commentator was one of the victims it was as if someone had punched me in the stomach.
At age 23, Jean Lapierre was elected to Parliament, becoming the youngest Cabinet minister ever in a Canadian government, Minister of Transport.
Given that CJAD is the only English talk radio (politically-speaking) in town the radio is locked there, until I switch to CBC or alternative radio for other perspectives, as well as other stories in the news.
But for me, Jean Lapierre’s twice-daily political commentaries/insights were an accompaniment to my morning coffee before heading out… and if possible I would catch him at 5:40 p.m.
Like most English-speaking people with any interest in politics, I had to hear what he had to say about anything and everything happening in Quebec, and the rest of Canada if it impacted Quebec in any way.
Strange thing. There was a period when I found Jean Lapierre politically distasteful. It was about him entering federal politics as a Liberal, then helping to found what became the BLOC Quebecois separatist party when he became disenchanted with the Canada-Quebec question. But he eventually returned to the Liberal fold, to a Cabinet post. Then with his federal pension locked up politics, and came back to Quebec to pursue his journalist/broadcast career fulltime. And was excellent at what he did, probably the best in Quebec, he was. I grew to like him, his political savvy and insights…
Jean Lapierre’s dual political and media career (professional life) began in 1979 at age 23, and came to a sudden and tragic end the afternoon of Tuesday, March 29, 2016, just weeks short of his 60th birthday.
His untimely and tragic death has left a major void on the Canadian-Quebec [political] landscape. His insightful, sometimes incisive questioning, analyses and commentary will be missed.
Who in Quebec, or anywhere else in Canada, for that matter, will, or can, emulate or replicate Jean Lapierre?
He truly was an extraordinary person who will be missed by all who never met him, but came to know him via the media.