(Probably incomplete) list of Quebec journalists turned politician

Remember the good old days when politicians were all lawyers?

Well, actually politicians have come from all sorts of jobs for a long time now, though lawyers and doctors tend to be over-represented. And journalism is among the former jobs of those who enter the political arena. But it seems like recently it’s become more prevalent. Just this week, former Montreal Gazette journalist Sue Montgomery announced she’s seeking the NDP nomination in N.D.G.-Westmount, and former TVA journalist Réjean Léveillé announced he’s running for the Conservatives.

Since the beginning of 2014, I count 14 Quebec journalists or former journalists who sought provincial or federal office by at least entering a nomination race. And since I find no list online of these people, I created one below. I’m adding to it as more announce, and there are undoubtedly plenty of former cases (particularly candidates that didn’t win) that I’m missing. Feel free to suggest additions below.

Some ground rules for the list though:

  • This list includes only actual politicians, meaning people who have sought elected office (entering a nomination race is enough). It doesn’t include journalists who became political attachés or public relations officials. Nor does it include lieutenant-governors or governors-general.
  • I’ve only included those seeking provincial or federal office. Expanding to include municipal, school board or other positions would make this list far too long and obscure to be manageable.
  • I only include those who entered politics after 1955. Sorry, Henri Bourassa.
  • The person must have been a journalist or worked in a related function (news anchor, news radio host, etc.) Just because someone was in the media doesn’t mean they were a journalist. I’ve excluded Lise Payette, for example, even though she was a figure on Radio-Canada before becoming an MNA. I’ve also excluded Pierre Karl Péladeau and others that owned media without being a journalist.
  • The journalism career must have been non-partisan. By that I mean that people who worked for media with obvious partisan political goals are excluded. (Pierre Trudeau is sometimes listed as a former journalist, but the journal he founded was partisan.)
  • I don’t put a limit on the time between when they were a journalist and when they became a politician. But the journalism job must have been a significant part of their careers. Doing an internship 20 years ago doesn’t count.

Here are the names I have so far, the parties they ran for, and the news outlets they used to work for. Those who actually got elected are in bold.

1956: Pierre Laporte (Independent) — Le Devoir — Went back into journalism after losing and re-entered politics as a Quebec Liberal in 1961

1960: René Lévesque (PLQ, then PQ) — Radio-Canada

1965: Gérard Pelletier (LPC) — Le Devoir, La Presse

1966: Yves Michaud (PLQ, PQ) — Clairon maskoutain, La Patrie

1972: Jeanne Sauvé (LPC) — CBC/Radio-Canada — Later served as governor general

1976: Jean-Pierre Charbonneau (PQ) — CKAC, CKVL, Le Devoir, La Presse

1976: Gérald Godin (PQ) — La Presse

1978: Claude Ryan (PLQ) — Le Devoir

1994: André Arthur (Independent) — TVA, CHRC — Lost this provincial election, but was elected federally in 2006

1994: Matthias Rioux (PQ) — CKAC, CKVL

2003: Dominique Vien (PLQ) — Radio-Canada, Radio Bellechasse

2004: André Bellavance (BQ) — KYQ-FM

2007: Pierre Arcand (PLQ) — CKAC, Metromedia

2007: Christine St-Pierre (PLQ) — Radio-Canada

2007: Bernard Drainville (PQ) — Radio-Canada

2008: Gérard Deltell (ADQ) — TQS

2008: Anne Lagacé-Dowson (NDP) — CBC

2008: Éric Boucher (PQ) — L’Actuel — Ran again for Québec solidaire in 2012

2009: Jean D’Amour (PLQ) — CJFP, CIBM

2011: Raymond Archambault (PQ) — Radio-Canada — Became president of the Parti Québécois in addition to a candidate

2012: Pierre Duchesne (PQ) — Radio-Canada

2012: Jean-François Lisée (PQ) — La Presse, L’Actualité

2012: Sophie Stanké (PQ) — Canal M, La Semaine

2012: Nathalie Roy (CAQ) — TQS, Radio-Canada, TVA

2014: Alexis Deschênes (PQ) — TVA

2014: François Paradis (CAQ) — TVA

2014: Armand Dubois (PLQ) — TVA, Radio-Canada, Radio Ville-Marie

2014: Marie-Louise Séguin (PQ) — Radio-Canada — Previously had a career in municipal politics

2014: Dominique Payette (PQ) — Radio-Canada

2014: Yvon Moreau (BQ) — RNC Média

2014: Sylvain Rochon (PQ) — CJSO

2015: Pascale Déry (CPC) — TVA

2015: Jocelyne Cazin (CAQ) — TVA

2015: Sébastien Couture (PQ) — Écho du Lac

2015: Véronyque Tremblay (PLQ) — TQS, TVA, FM93

2015: Martin Leclerc (NDP) — Journal de Montréal, Radio-Canada

2015: Sue Montgomery (NDP) — Montreal Gazette

2015: Réjean Léveillé (CPC) — TVA

2015: Dominique Trottier (NDP) — TVA

21 thoughts on “(Probably incomplete) list of Quebec journalists turned politician

  1. Michael

    Can’t be worse than having a bunch of lawyers as was the case for many years. Marois and Couillard are the first back-to-back Québec premiers to not have gone to law school in at least 100 years.

    1. Mario D

      Mathias Rioux was in fact a radio personnality on CKAC 730 and CKVL 850 am. Was for many years forming a duo with former minister Jean Cournoyer and i think later on with now MTL mayor Denis Coderre.

  2. Steve W

    Peter Shurman, born & raised in Montreal, started at CJAD/CJFM. Later moved to work at CFRB Toronto. Then went into provincial politics in Ontario, & served there from 2007 to 2013. He has since returned part-time at CFRB Toronto.

    You wouldn’t count him on this list, as he was local. Bob Benedetti had a 4-year stint as Beaconsfield mayor after his very long career at CFCF/CTV Montreal TV.

  3. Steve Kowch

    Steve … add CJAD news commentator Gordon Atkinson who was one of the four elected members of the Equality Party who sat in the Quebec National Assembly from 1989–1994. After politics, he returned to radio as a political commentator on CIQC retiring in 1998.

      1. Michael Black

        Gord Atkinson did sports on CBC tv here in the early seventies. I remember him starting with some bit about the cast of “Oh Calcutta!” having problems when colds hit.

        I thought he was at least a newsreader at CJAD before going into politics, at least I remember him doing Gord Sinclair style newscasts on CJAD at some point.
        I suppose whether he counts depends on your exact definition of “journalism”.


  4. Steve W

    There’s also Gordon Atkinson, one of the original ones from the Equality Party & elected. He was longtime at CBC Sports based in Montreal, and later on moved to Montreal radio as a commentator.

  5. Michael Black

    Is this only provincial!?

    Pat Donnelly, Gazette theatre critic, ran in Westmount, when the mega-merger happened. She went to a “meet the candidates” meeting, and the Westmount Examiner, still a valid newspaper then, reported a near lynch mob. She ran for the “wrong” party, even though the merger was a done deal at that point.

    Was Nick Auf der Maur a reporter who landed on Montreal city council, or did he start writing after becoming a councillor?

    Julian Feldman also wants to run in Westmount (I saw something about that), he was involved in the Montreal Mirror in the early days. He’s already successfully at the school board level.


  6. Simon Ethier

    Great observation regarding this recent prevalence.

    Liza Frulla could probably be added to the list.

    1. Mario D

      Correct me if i am wrong but i think madame Frulla did the opposite. Was a politician and then became a media personnality.

  7. Mario D

    If we judge by your list, up until 1978 it made for some rather solid or lasting political figures but afterwards … What the hell happened between 1978 and 2003 ? If Andre Arthur is the only one worth showing for , no matter why we forgot about the rest !

    I find that those going into politics are using their poularity as a public figure to try to make sure that they are elected first. Not that they are not well intended in running for an election but we hear so few about their personnal views and targets because they have to stick to the party and stay behind the chef without making waves…

    1. Fagstein Post author

      If we judge by your list, up until 1978 it made for some rather solid or lasting political figures but afterwards … What the hell happened between 1978 and 2003 ?

      The early part of the list is biased in favour of well-known politicians. I’m sure there are plenty of journalists who unsuccessfully ran for office during that time that haven’t been added to it yet. So I wouldn’t draw too many conclusions.

  8. Alexia

    I heard a few years ago that Jean-René Dufort had run as a politician in the 80s or 90s. When he lost, he left political life for media and became Infoman. Is this true?

    1. Fagstein Post author

      I heard a few years ago that Jean-René Dufort had run as a politician in the 80s or 90s. When he lost, he left political life for media and became Infoman. Is this true?

      I’ve never heard of this. I can’t say for sure that Dufort never ran as a candidate in any election for any public office, but a quick search reveals he was never a candidate in a Canadian or Quebec election.


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