Paul Desmarais R.I.P.

Written by  //  December 3, 2013  //  Canada  //  No comments

Desmarais funeral Dec 2013Paul Desmarais’s funeral draws A-list of politics past and present
(Globe & Mail) Tributes poured in for the late Paul Desmarais on Tuesday in a commemorative ceremony that featured a veritable who’s who of politicians and businessmen past and present.
Four Canadian prime ministers, a former French president and five Quebec premiers were among those who attended the tribute to the late business tycoon at the Notre-Dame Basilica. (CTV) Harper, Sarkozy among dignitaries who paid tribute to Paul Desmarais (The Gazette) Paul Desmarais remembered: ‘Nobody will forget your love of life’

 
9 October
paul-desmarais-2Alan Hustak writes
Remembering Paul Desmarais: “He fit no stereotypes. He was like some rare breed of cat prowling the corporate jungles and free of the hidebound timidity that holds back would be challengers,” wrote Peter C. Newman, who chronicled the giants of the Canadian establishment. “He was a corporate gambler on a grand scale. He moved so quickly and so quietly that only a few top insiders who knew him well have ever heard his footsteps.” Appropriately, perhaps, an 18th century Hudon bronze of a lion devouring a horse adorned his office. Desmarais wrote his own epitaph, when with modest understatement he once told a reporter “If I have done nothing else in life, I think I have proven that a French-Canadian can make it in the business community.”

Behind the scenes, Paul Desmarais was a force in Canadian politics
Sandra Martin, Globe & Mail
He never ran for public office, never accepted a seat in the Senate or an appointment as governor-general. Still, Paul Desmarais was a singular political force in Canada for more than five decades. The most powerful francophone in the country, he knew and influenced, in small ways or large, every Canadian prime minister and Quebec premier since Louis St. Laurent and Maurice Duplessis. He helped Pierre Trudeau open up relations with China by heading up the Canada China Business Council in the 1970s and worked closely with succeeding prime ministers, no matter their political affiliation, including Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin and Brian Mulroney.
“The easy thing to think about Paul is that he has the politicians in his pocket, that he’s a sort of master of marionettes. But he’s not,” Michael Pitfield once said. Mr. Pitfield was a former clerk of the Privy Council during the Trudeau era (and later a senator) who became deputy chair of Power Corp. in 1984. “He’s a player. He never disengages; he never withdraws from the arena. He made an enormous fortune by the time he was 35 and has ever since been engaged in the active governance of this country. Most people automatically assume that Paul’s policy involvements are designed to make him richer, that he tries to control people and events to get some desired, selfish result. In fact, he’s an active participant, using his power base to press for what he thinks are desirable policies. It’s very important to understand that distinction.”

paul-desmarais-1972Paul Desmarais 1927-2013
Le propriétaire de Power Corporation, de La Presse et des quotidiens du groupe Gesca, Paul Desmarais, est mort hier soir à l’âge de 86 ans. Il était l’un des hommes d’affaires les plus respectés au pays.
(La Presse) C’est aussi dans les années 1950 que Paul Desmarais rencontre Jean-Louis Lévesque, un Gaspésien devenu prospère au Québec grâce à l’aide de Maurice Duplessis. À la tête de La Corporation de valeurs Trans-Canada, Lévesque prête de l’argent à faible taux à son ami Desmarais dont il apprécie le côté fonceur. Ce dernier en profite pour réaliser une série de coups fumants et va jusqu’à acheter la compagnie de Lévesque qui comprend l’hippodrome Blue Bonnets et Dupuis Frères.
Paul Desmarais s’installe à Montréal en 1962. Au début de 1968, il met la main sur Power Corporation du Canada (PCC), une société d’utilités publiques fondée à Montréal en 1925.
Au moment de l’acquisition, les temps sont durs et Power bat de l’aile. Le conseil d’administration accepte de procéder à un échange d’actions avec La Corporation de valeurs Trans-Canada de Desmarais. À ce moment-là, Trans-Canada a des intérêts dans Transport Provincial (autocars), L’Impériale Assurance-Vie, Investors et autres secteurs dont les médias (Gesca, Les Journaux Trans-Canada).
Au terme de l’échange d’actions, Paul Desmarais devient président du conseil et chef de la direction de PCC. Le visage de l’entreprise change radicalement. Plusieurs branches, surtout celles liées aux services financiers et aux loisirs, sont revendues ou liquidées. D’autres sont consolidées. Power accroît sa présence dans Dominion Glass, Consolidated-Bathurst, Groupe Investors et Les Journaux Trans-Canada.

Brian Mulroney on Paul Desmarais: ‘His life has really been a love story’
I can tell you with absolute certainty that, in its almost century and a half of existence, Canada has never produced an individual more honourable, more principled and more accomplished than Paul Desmarais.
(Globe & Mail) Last Saturday night, following a private dinner at Sagard – the Desmarais estate north of La Malbaie, Que. – I was asked to say a few words on behalf of the weekend guests of Paul and Jackie Desmarais. Paul was quite ill and unable to attend, but he insisted that Jackie proceed with some close friends. …
Paul has not had a conventional life.
His life has really been a love story – of absolute devotion to Jackie, his family, his friends and his country.
His magnificent success has been a tribute to that life, and his extraordinary generosity has gone to the very core of his being. He believes that sharing generously the benefits of one’s success with family, friends and country is the only road to genuine happiness. And Paul Desmarais – as you all know – has achieved that rarest of personal objectives: happiness on Earth! …

Paul Desmarais portrait photoPaul Desmarais dies: The man who was Power Corp. dead at 86
Was a key member of Canada’s financial elite and friend to premiers, prime ministers and presidents
(CBC) Paul Desmarais, one of Canada’s most powerful businessmen and a self-made billionaire who befriended prime ministers and presidents, has died.
Desmarais, who transformed an ailing family-owned Sudbury bus company into a $33-billion conglomerate that straddled the world, was 86.
His family said in a statement that he “died peacefully surrounded by his loved ones” at Domaine Laforest, the family’s sprawling estate in Quebec’s Charlevoix region.
A key member of Canada’s financial elite, Desmarais was a friend and patron of a series of Quebec premiers and at least four Canadian prime ministers, namely, Pierre Trudeau, Brian Mulroney, Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin.
Martin recalls man of ‘incredible integrity’
Both Mulroney and Martin worked for Power Corp. in the early stages of their business careers, and Desmarais’s son André is married to Chrétien’s daughter France.
“All of us who were very young at the time working for him learned an enormous amount from him,” Martin said.
“He was a visionary, but he was also a person of such incredible integrity … and he was actually very, very nice to be with.”

Conrad Black: Paul Desmarais was always a builder, never merely a speculator
Paul G. Desmarais, who has just died at 86, was one of the remarkable and inspiring figures of Canadian history. This may seem an extravagant claim for such a private person, the dimensions of whose career are little appreciated publicly, especially outside Quebec, but it is nothing less than the truth.
Though his father was the leading Franco-Ontarian lawyer in Sudbury, his immense career as a financier and industrialist, spanning six decades and three continents, was self-made, uncontroversial, and an almost unbroken series of astute investments followed by the application of superior management. He was not long regarded as a mere conglomerateur and never derided as an asset-stripper. While he sometimes sold assets he bought, he was always a builder and never merely a speculator, and in Power Corporation of Canada, a bedraggled hodge-podge when he took control of it in the mid-sixties, he leaves a superb, well-balanced and managed corporation strong in every field and place where it is active, with control firmly in the hands of his capable and experienced sons. …
He was a prodigious reader of non-fiction and a learned man; his greatest cultural interest seemed to be architecture, and here he indulged his interest with splendid houses which he largely designed, and especially, one of the most magnificent homes ever built in North America, and surely the greatest treasure in this country, his palatial home and recreational complex on thousands of acres north of La Malbaie, Quebec.
Desmarais estate Charlevoix

Obituary: Paul Desmarais Sr., former head of Power Corp., ‘fit no stereotypes’
By Anne Sutherland, Montreal Gazette
One of the most influential men in the country, the business tycoon built a global financial and media empire
As news of his death spread Wednesday morning, Desmarais was honoured in the corridors of power, as both the political and business establishment in Quebec and Canada paid him homage.
He was a titan of industry, a staunch federalist, a prolific philanthropist and a patron of the arts.
The Desmarais name is familiar to anyone who has been to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, where an entire pavilion is named for Jean-Noël Desmarais, Paul Sr.’s father. Likewise, there is a Paul G. Desmarais building for the faculty of medicine at Université de Montréal and another building named for the family at his alma mater, University of Ottawa. A coronary unit at the hospital in La Malbaie, close to the family’s luxurious compound, is named for his beloved wife.
Desmarais was a collector of Canadian — and particularly, Quebec — art, and the Power Corp. offices in the International Trade Centre in Old Montreal are full of one of the most impressive collections in the country, including works by Jean-Paul Lemieux, Jean-Paul Riopelle and 42 works by Cornelius Kreighoff. It is perhaps appropriate that a bronze of Mercure, the God of Commerce, and an 18th-century Hudon bronze of a lion devouring a horse, adorned his Victoria Square office.

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