Tuesday 18 October 2011

Raymond Bachand is one impressive minister

From the time he entered politics, via a provincial byelection on December 12, 2005, I was impressed with the way Raymond Bachand carried himself. Unquestionably, Premier Jean Charest’s decision to recruit the noted businessman and lawyer to run for the Liberal Party in Outremont following the retirement of Yves Seguin was one of his better moves.

Raymond Bachand makes a point to Beryl and I.
Bachand was elected on December 12, 2005 in Outremont in a by-election after the retirement of former Finance Minister Yves Séguin.  After holding the economic development portfolio, he added tourism to his duties  during the minority government mandate from April 2007 to October 2008  before becoming minister of finance and latterly revenue as well.

The polished and charming  64 year is impeccably bilingual, holding masters and doctorate degrees in administration from Harvard Business School. Last spring I had a chance meeting with Bachand during a showing of the phenomenal production of Schwartz’s The Musical at the Centaur. He was in the lobby with his wife chatting with artistic director Roy Surette when  I walked  by. I introduced myself about the same time that former federal cabinet minister Gerry Weiner spotted us and joined the introductions. It turned out my seat was close by the minister and at intermission we ended up at the same resting spot outside as did Weiner. A wonderful non-political discussion ensued. A few weeks later I saw him again when he addressed a local community group at which time I asked if he could spare some time to give me an interview for The Suburban. With his very charged schedule, several dates went back and forth but  editor Beryl Wajsman and I did sit down with Bachand a few days ago  for a nice tête a tête  at his constituency office.  

Please note  that the full interview will appear in the October 26 edition.

Before entering politics Bachand worked in several key positions, including the Ministry of Labour and the premier's Office. While he was a a pro-sovereignty supporter during the 1980 referendum, and an organizer for the “Yes” campaign, he changed positions to  maintain that Quebecers should work inside the Canadian federation. He is the ideal person to convince those individuals who still believe in separation that it is an old time strategy. (Just look at what happened to Gilles  Duceppe and the Bloc Québecois folks!)

Speculation these days points to a spring provincial election.  If that were to be the case, then it is pretty much a foregone conclusion that Premier Charest will seek a fourth mandate. However, according to the letter of the law, the Liberals can stay in power for five years. The only way this will happen is if Charest decides to retire and leave his successor with sufficient time to build an image as an electable premier. Claude Béchard was seen by many as a heir apparent. Sadly, he died earlier this year of cancer. Nathalie Normandeau was in high regard as well, but she recently  stepped down herself. Education Minister and present-day Deputy  Premier Line Beauchamp has also been mentioned as potential leadership material. However, like Normandeau, she can barely speak a word of English. Unquestionably, Bachand  remains the most able for the job – a job though that Charest shows no signs of giving up anytime soon.

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