What will Jean Charest do? We ask Roy Heenan
October 3rd, 2012
It has been nearly one month now since Jean Charest announced that he was stepping down as leader of the Quebec Liberal Party. What will he do next? Politics is virtually all the man has known. He obtained a law degree from the Université de Sherbrooke and was admitted to the Barreau du Québec in 1981, but three years later he was elected as a Member of Parliament for the Federal Conservative Party and never set foot in a courtroom again.
There are rumours that Prime Minister Stephen Harper will hand Charest a plum appointment just like former Manitoba NDP Premier Gary Doer who after stepping down in 2009 was handed the prestigious role of Canadian Ambassador to the United States. We hear that Charest could be in line for a role in France. However, should the grandfather to be and his wife Michele Dionne decide they want to continue to enjoy their Westmount home; local law firms are no doubt already lining up for Charest's services.
Consider this. Former Quebec Premiers Lucien Bouchard, Daniel Johnson and his brother Pierre-Marc Johnson are employed at Davies Ward Philips and Vineberg, McCarthy Tetrault and Heenan Blaikie respectfully. Former Canadian Prime Ministers Brian Mulroney and Jean Chretien are with Norton Rose (formerly Ogilvy Renaud) and Heenan Blaikie. The latter is where Pierre Elliott Trudeau landed in 1985 after he retired as prime minister. “Trudeau really put us on the map,” Roy Heenan, founder and chair of the firm told me. “We were a relatively small firm at the time, with about 45 lawyers. Now we have 560, with offices across the country.”
As for Charest, Heenan said “he'd be an excellent catch for any law firm. I suppose right now he needs to make a decision of what he wants to do. I am sure he will get all kinds of offers from both law firms and corporations. I think he probably wants to take a little time off before deciding on anything.”
Former premiers and prime ministers serve as extraordinary ambassadors for law firms, Heenan agreed. “But funny enough they also get involved in the day to day practices,” he said.
Patron of the Arts: Throughout an exceptional career, Heenan has gained recognition as a leading practitioner and scholar. But he is also a noted patron of the arts. His interest in contemporary Canadian painting is evidenced by the exceptional collection displayed throughout his firm's downtown offices. Heenan sits on the Board of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Pointe-à-Callière, the Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History, Beaverbrook Art Gallery, and the Acquisition Committee of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. He was chairman of the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal from 1994 to 1998, and a director of the CBC from 1995 to 2005. It was therefore no surprise to learn that he will be honoured by Canadian Hadassah-WIZO (CHW) Montreal, in collaboration with Galerie de Bellefeuille, at their upcoming art auction on Wednesday, Oct. 10 (6:30 p.m.) at Espace Reunion (6600 Hutchison). Featuring over 40 artists in a variety of mediums, the cocktail dinatoire preview and sale evening promises a selection of highly sought after art through both silent and live auctions. “I have purchased some 1,500 works of arts which grace our different offices,” Heenan says. “Art for me is a way to relax from my law practice. I really like it and I am excited to help out Hadassah.” Tickets are $100 each. Info: email@example.com or via www.chw.ca/montreal.
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Mike Cohen, The Suburban, Jean Charest, Roy Heenan