Friday, July 03, 2009

Canadian Leaders Say Goodbye to One of Their Own

Overshadowed by the memorial services for the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, another memorial took place this week, for one of Canada’s most respected leaders.

Canada’s 25th Governor General, Romeo LeBlanc, has been laying in state for the past two days, after his death on June 24. Today’s funeral showed just how popular a leader he was, as politicians of all stripes arrived in the nation’s capital, Ottawa, to pay their final respects.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, along with past Prime Minister Jean Chretien, and current Governor General Michaelle Jean were in attendance, at the Roman Catholic mass for LeBlanc – a man described by many as one of the kindest persons they have ever met.

While all the major news networks spend thousands of countless dollars sending their anchors to the Neverland Ranch in the States for Michael Jackson’s memorial, there was little coverage of Romeo LeBlanc’s memorial.

Granted, Michael Jackson was a superstar on the world stage – almost everywhere you go on planet Earth, someone will know the name “Michael Jackson.”

Although Michael Jackson’s accomplishments were no small feat, what Michael Jackson did for pop music, FMR Governor General Romeo LeBlanc did for Canada.

LeBlanc fielded the media’s questions, and scripted the messages Prime Ministers Lester B. Pearson and Pierre Elliot Trudeau conveyed, as he was both leaders press secretary up until his election as an MP in New Brunswick in 1972.

Often called the “fisherman’s minister” for his strong support of those in the industry, he became the federal Fisheries Minister, in Trudeau’s 1970 government and a Senator in 1984. He was nicknamed the Godfather of New Brunswick, for his influence over other politicians in that part of the country.

Perhaps he is best known as Canada’s first Acadian appointed Governor General, with his appointment in 1995.

Known for his warmth, compassion and for inviting complete strangers into his home, to talk about making Canada a great country, Romeo LeBlanc left a political legacy in Canada, which later governor generals have yet to accomplish.

Although the governor general role is often thought of not much more than being a political figure head – the governor general acts as the Queen’s representative in Canada – serving Canadian interests were never far from LeBlanc. He was never afraid to voice his opinions and get involved in the debates, despite the possibility of political consequences.

Romeo LeBlanc, had endured a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, and had suffered a stroke just a few months prior to his death, at the age of 81.

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