The “Stanley Cup” of political journalists

  • File Photo, simon clark
    The columnist Michel Hébert, at the parliamentary Bureau of the Journal in January last.

    Charles Lecavalier

    Saturday, 12 August 2017 19:40

    Saturday, 12 August 2017 19:40

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    Columnist emeritus Michel Hébert has covered a dozen federal and provincial general elections, the “Stanley Cup” political reporters. It confides on the evolution of the profession.

    “Most election campaigns are adventures in and of itself,” says Michel Hébert, who has followed step by step politicians like Jean Chrétien, Jean Charest, Lucien Bouchard and Mario Dumont to the account of the canadian Press, and the Journal de Québec.

    Other times, other manners

    “It’s a bit of the Stanley Cup of political journalists “, remembers Mr. Hébert, who has seen the practice of the profession to change with the arrival of the internet, but also cable-news channels in the 1990s. “Today, it is necessary to make breaking news, updates, the task has tripled. Before, journalists started their day at 16 h. “

    Other changes, some anecdotal, others less, also took place. Before, the bus campaign of the QLP was a “real store” that served as ” the Bud, the Blue, Becks, Pepsi, root beer, chips, you could ask anything at any time “. Today, reporters have to contend with the sandwiches health.

    Pressure ” more “

    More seriously, “there was less of spin doctors, the less public relations in our legs,” stresses the man who founded the parliamentary Bureau of the Journal de Québec five years ago. It also deplores the “correctness” which stifles the politicians. “The politicians are closed due to a pressure more and more great media on the government,” he said.

    He gives the example of Lucien Bouchard, strongly criticized for having said that Quebecers were not working enough. “We are still talking about it today, reminds us of Michel Hébert. I have an old-fashioned way, I’m probably from another time, but I find it essential to be able to talk to a politician outside of the context of the work, and without a tape recorder, ” he adds. I think I had a chance to experience the golden age of business “, he says.

    The competition

    “It was winter and we covered a press conference of Mario Dumont, then leader of the ADQ in a closed wood of Val-d’or. It ends the press briefing and we return : more bus. We learn that Robert Plouffe is party to bear its cassettes to the regional station of VAT. I had to make the thumb with Julie Lemieux, the Sun, to be back home, ” he says, laughing.

    The competition bis

    “I was covering a mission of Jean Charest in Copenhagen. In good european city, everything is well integrated between the metro and the train. I’m heading to the congress centre with Remi Nadeau [the current head of the office of the Journal de Québec and a former reporter for the canadian Press]. He said that he motioned me to notify me that it arrived on the scene, but it seems that I have not seen it. At one point, I found the time long and I demand a lady, are we soon at the congress centre ? She replied : “Not at all, we are soon in Sweden”. “

    The notion of time

    “During the elections, especially federal, you lose the notion of time. Thou risest in a province in the morning and you sleep in the evening. This is true for us, but also for politicians. It was in New Brunswick and Jean Chrétien mounted on a platform in a barn, and said : “I am so happy to be here in Manitoba with you.” Let’s say that the activists looked at each other ! “

    Cared for by anarchists

    “I was covering the summit of the Americas in Quebec city. The police have decided to bombard the coast of Abraham with tear gas. It falls 10 feet of me, then I cannot see anything. Suddenly, your hands take me by the shoulders and guides me to an apartment where I cleaned the eyes and face. I finally see clear : it is a flat “resistance” completely empty, where there were dozens of bottles of water. That a man like me should be treated with onions by anarchist : I thank them still. “

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