Tuesday 18 October 2011

Bombardier makes smart move with Travolta

Montreal-based Bombardier, the world’s leading business aircraft manufacturer, has welcomed John Travolta as a brand ambassador for its Learjet, Challenger and Global jets. Travolta made an appearance at the company’s California headquarters a few weeks back and as I just learned, he then flew here to share his good news with local staffers.

A Bombardier press release tells us this:

Recognized worldwide as an accomplished actor and film producer, John Travolta is also a licensed jet pilot and an advocate for corporate aviation. With a busy schedule of filming, publicity and charity work, he embodies the persona of the true business traveler - making him an ideal representative for Bombardier Business Aircraft.

“John is both a film icon and knowledgeable aviator,” said Steve Ridolfi, President, Bombardier Business Aircraft. “He also recently added the Challenger aircraft to the impressive list of 11 different jets he is qualified to fly, an aircraft that offers him the ability to meet his passion for aviation and demanding business travel requirements all in one. We are thrilled to have him as our brand ambassador.”

Here is Travolta’s appearance at Bombardier’s Burbank, California headquarters. I have not been able to secure anything from his stop at the Dorval plant just a day later:

With an acting career spanning over 30 years,  Travolta has starred in 60 films and has been honoured with a number of prestigious film awards and award nominations. He has received two aviation awards – the American Institute of Aeronautics Foundation Award for Excellence in 2003, and the Living Legends Ambassador of Aviation award in 2007. He currently holds 11 pilots licenses for both commercial and business jets.

“Business aviation has always made sense to me in that it offers flexibility, privacy, security, and most importantly, timesaving – meaning I have the ability to keep up with my busy schedule and have more time for my family, which is very important to me,”  Travolta said in a statement. “On top of that, I’m a pilot - I love to fly. Bombardier designs aircraft as much for the person flying them as for the passenger. I’m proud to represent their aircraft.”

Bombardier is the business aviation industry’s leading manufacturer. Its portfolio of 11 models of business aircraft, among the industry’s largest and most comprehensive, includes the legendary Learjet aircraft, world-renowned Challenger aircraft and industry-leading Global jet family. Bombardier’s business aircraft are supported by Bombardier Customer Services, a leader in aftermarket service and support with a global service network consisting of 64 maintenance facilities in 27 countries, and ten parts depots on five continents. Bombardier has nearly 190 field service and support staff deployed internationally and is also the only jet manufacturer providing pilot and technical training on its aircraft, with a network of nine facilities worldwide.

When I think of Travolta, I recall being an avid viewer of his very first show – Welcome Back Kotter. He played Vinny Barbarino, one of the so-called Sweat Hogs. The show propelled him into superstardom.

Here is a classic clip of Travolta as Vinny Barbarino:

Here is a recent ABC Welcome Back Kotter Reunion:

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.