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Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 06.14.05
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

Quebec's Bernard Landry: The Golden Years

After leaving politics in the spring of 2005, former Premier Bernard Landry found that he was unable to simply stop working, despite his 68 years and warnings from his doctors about that throbbing vein in his forehead. Thus for several years he drifted aimlessly through a series of failed schemes and careers.

In the fall of 2005, Landry became a motivational speaker based on what he hoped would be a best-seller entitled Humiliation, Adieu. The premise of the book and his pitch was that one should not count one's blessings but instill oneself with a boundless sense of entitlement. Landry would close off every speech with a signature line: "And remember, if it's different, it's probably out to get you."

Unfortunately, the program never took off, due to Landry's tendency to lose patience with his audience and go off script. (A typical tirade: "What's wrong with you people! Why can't you just do what I say!")

Plus, while his audiences respected him and indeed turned out in good numbers to hear him, the general comment was, "He's okay, but I've heard better."

As a favour to a friend, Landry filled in as a high school guidance counsellor in Rimouski for several months starting in 2006. This, however, ended in scandal when it was discovered that on several occasions he had "accidentally" lost student applications to out-of-province universities. Landry remained defiant.

"I don't see anything wrong with what I did," he told a reporter. "It is not so important for our young people to have access to as many opportunities as possible. What is important is the collectivity and making sure it stays put. Besides, we have everything anyone could want right here. Only through isolation can we truly develop as a people."

In 2009, Premier Pauline Marois asked Landry to oversee the campaign for Referendum III, which was based on the clear question, "Is an independent Quebec not what you want?" While victory initially seemed assured, particularly in the wake of the recent Pork Butt Scandal in Ottawa, the separatists again lost by a narrow margin of two percentage points.

In many circles, Landry was made the scapegoat for having booked Jacques Parizeau for the campaign's major rally in Quebec City. Rather than stick to the agreed-upon speech, Parizeau began rambling incoherently about "the pride of Quebec" and "We all know she has a thing for older men" before breaking into an a cappella version of Céline Dion's Where Does My Heart Beat Now?;

After this setback, Landry went into seclusion, where he set about writing his memoirs, René Lévesque Was Shorter Than Me. Ten months later, he took on the post of executive manager of a series of Montreal hotels.

Landry was apparently competent in his work but suffered from increasing bouts of paranoia, believing that his junior colleagues were out to get his job. He was constantly bothering co-workers with e-mail surveys that asked, "How do you think I'm doing?" Late nights saw him at his desk mulling over the results and muttering "Seventy-six, seventy-six, maudit seventy-six."

The managerial position ended abruptly -- again embarrassingly for Landry -- after the hotels' multi-ethnic housekeeping staff walked off the job. "He blames us for everything," a spokeswoman said.

There are unsubstantiated reports that Landry then spent time working anonymously in a Gaspé car wash. One supposed co-worker told Le Journal de Montréal that Landry was a hard worker but "went nuts if anyone ever used a red rag."

It appeared that Landry would spend his declining years writing long rambling letters to the editor citing conspiracy theories about Jean Chrétien, a secret electronic implant, and the actual whereabouts of Lucien Bouchard's amputated leg. However, in late 2011, Landry found his niche at last when he was appointed to the Canadian Senate by Prime Minister Gilles Duceppe.

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