It's been an unfortunate week for the Right Honourable Romeo Lebanc, former Governor General of Canada. Mr. Leblanc passed away earlier this week but unfortunately news of his passing and tributes to his legacy have the potential to be overshadowed by a long and growing list of real and rumoured celebrity passings (actual: Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson; rumoured: Jeff Goldblum, Harrison Ford).
Although I did not follow the entire career of Mr. Leblanc, I probably became aware of him during the ice storm.
Do you remember the 1998 ice storm? I do. I lived an hour out of Ottawa at the time, commuting to University of Ottawa each day. We lived in a very tiny town whose power was out for a week. We were able to cook on the woodstove in our family room, sleep under pounds of blankets and work/study by daylight and oil lamp.
It was a terrible time - the first week of January, and bitter cold. Many people were less fortunate than us - without consistent sources of heat or support systems to help them through this rough time. People showed their good and bad sides, from country folks helping each other with generators and sharing food, to some woman whose power was back on refusing my now-hubby the last bottle of lamp oil so he could bring it to us as our sources dwindled.
As governor general, Romeo Leblanc toured farms of folks who were affected by the storm to get a sense of the impact on their lives and livelihood. He visited the region and saw the devastation for himself, issuing a message to give kudos to the emergency forces who were working to assist the residents of the region.
It's sad to think that such a proud representative of Canada was affected in his last years by Alzheimer's, that he might not have been able to remember all the wonderful things he did in his long career as a public figure.
- First Acadian Governor General (Canada's 25th)
- Re-opened the grounds of the GG residence to Canadians
- Liberal MP, Cabinet Minister, Senator, Speaker of the Senate, Fisheries Minister
- Press Secretary to Prime Ministers Lester B. Pearson and Pierre Elliott Trudeau
- Support volunteerism, instating the Caring Canadian Award
- Supported teaching Canadian history
- Instated National Aboriginal Day (June 21st)
Obviously a great Canadian. Hopefully one not to be forgotten in the press this week.
For more information on his incredible career, check out his profile on the Governor General's website. You can leave your condolences, or perhaps consider supporting the Alzheimer's Society of Canada in his memory.
Do you have any memories of Mr. Leblanc's work? Were you affected by the ice storm? Please share your thoughts and memories in the comments.