LeBlanc, Roméo, 1927-2009 : Politician, journalist, Senator and Governor General
Roméo LeBlanc was born in Cormier's Cove, Memramcook, New Brunswick on December 18, 1927. Mr. LeBlanc obtained B.A. and B. Ed degrees from St. Joseph's University, N.B. (now the University of Moncton). He married his first wife Joslyn Carter of Montreal in December 1966. They have 2 children, Dominic and Geneviève. He married his second wife Diane Fowler in 1994, before becoming Governor General.
Mr. LeBlanc was a teacher at Drummond High School, Drummond, N.B. from 1951-53. He went on to take post graduate studies in French and history at the University of Paris from 1953-55. Following Paris, he once again became a teacher; this time at the Fredericton Teacher's College from 1955-1959. In 1959, Mr. LeBlanc joined the news department of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). He became a correspondent for the French network of CBC (Radio-Canada) in Ottawa, London (U.K.) and Washington, D.C during 1960-67. In 1967, he was appointed as Special Assistant and Press Secretary to Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson and continued to perform this role for Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau from 1968-71. Following this, Mr. LeBlanc was an Assistant to the President and Director of Public Relations at the University of Moncton from 1971-72.
Roméo LeBlanc was elected to the House of Commons as the Member for Westmorland-Kent in October 1972 and was re-elected in 1974, 1979 and 1980. He was sworn to the Privy Council and appointed Minister of State for Fisheries in 1974; Minister of Fisheries and Environment in 1976-79; Minister of Fisheries and Oceans in 1980-82; and in 1982 he became the Minister of Public Works and also responsible for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation along with the National Capital Commission until 1984. During 1974 to 1984, he made official visits to the USSR (twice), Poland, Cuba, the EEC, the United Kingdom and France. He was a delegate to the United Nations Law of the Sea Conference from 1974-79. As well, during this period, Mr. LeBlanc served on various Cabinet Committees: Economic Development (1974-82); Communications (1974-84) as chairman from 1976-81; Pirorities and Planning (1975-84); and Social Affairs (1982-84).
Mr. LeBlanc was appointed by Pierre Elliot Trudeau to the Senate in June 1984 and became the Speaker of the Senate from 1993-94. During his term as Senator, he served on various Committees and Sub-Committees: Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration; Foreign Affairs; Sub-Committee on Security & National Defence. As well, Mr. LeBlanc was active in various Parliamentary Associations but the main ones were the International Association of French-Speaking Parliamentarians and the Canada-Europe / Canada-France Associations. In 1977, Mount Allison University, Sackville, N.B. granted him a Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law. As well, the Université de Moncton, N.B. granted him a Honorary Doctorate in Public Administration in 1979. In 1985-86, Roméo LeBlanc became a Visiting Scholar at Carleton University in Ottawa, at the Institute of Canadian Studies and a part-time faculty member at Concordia University in Montreal. He guest lectured at the Université de Moncton in Moncton and McGill University in Montreal.
Roméo LeBlanc was appointed Governor General of Canada on November 22,1994 and sworn into office on February 8, 1995. He was the first Acadian and the first person from the Maritimes to hold that post. He resigned from the position in 1999, citing health reasons. M. LeBlanc died June 24, 2009 in New Brunswick.