Why was Christian Dubé so moved when he spoke about Bernard Lemaire?

It is not every day that we see a minister on the verge of tears while speaking about an entrepreneur in the National Assembly. This shows the influence that Bernard Lemaire had on Christian Dubé.

• Also read: Cascades co-founder Bernard Lemaire has died

• Also read: Politicians and entrepreneurs pay tribute to Bernard Lemaire

With red eyes, the Minister of Health said this powerful sentence at the homage to Mr. Lemaire last week at the Salon Bleu: “I wish every person the chance to meet a Bernard Lemaire in the course of their life.”

Mr. Dubé will always remember a visit to Italian factories he made with Mr. Lemaire in the early 2000s. At the time, he was chief financial officer at Cascades, the company co-founded by Bernard Lemaire in 1964.

Why was Christian Dube so moved when he spoke about

Christian Dubé and Bernard Lemaire Photo provided by Cascades

Lying under a machine in Italy

“When I saw Bernard lying under a cardboard machine, I said: Damn, how come?” introduces Christian Dubé during a telephone interview with Le Journal.

“He could be very strategic, but you couldn’t remove the man who bought I don’t know how many factories – maybe a hundred over a period of 30 years,” he says.

At the time, Cascades was preparing to merge its European cardboard activities with those of the Italian group Reno de Medici.

Mr. Lemaire, an “operator” at heart, “spent a lot of time visiting factories before going into the office to negotiate,” points out Mr. Dubé, who left Cascades in 2012.

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René Lévesque (left) and Bernard Lemaire. Photo from the Cascades website

“Be the best”

Christian Dubé was chief financial officer at Domtar, a Cascades competitor, when he met Bernard Lemaire and his two brothers Laurent and Alain. At the time, the two companies were preparing to merge their Canadian container board activities. The result of this merger, Norampac, was founded in 1997. Seven years later, Mr. Dubé made the jump to Cascades.

“Bernard’s philosophy was how can we be the best, to be the ones that survive,” he says, recalling the many challenges the pulp and paper industry has faced over the years.

“What I have learned [de M. Lemaire]It’s about having a clear strategy and, above all, about taking people with you, it’s about respecting them. It sounds very loud, but is noticeable in everyday life. If you tell your people, “Be careful with your spending, we are going through a difficult time,” then you need to set a good example. It is the best way to gain the respect of your people.”

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From left to right: Bernard, Alain and Laurent Lemaire. Photo from the Cascades website

The Cascades à la Santé model?

The minister is trying to put this approach into practice in the health network.

“I hope that with all of our learnings, including those that we will have with the departure of Bernard, … How can we ensure that there are managers in our large organizations who think in terms of a business culture?” What What made Cascades different was decentralization. It gave the managers a lot of independence, they were accountable and could make suggestions.”

Christian Dubé also hopes that Bernard Lemaire’s extraordinary life will encourage young Quebecers to pursue big entrepreneurial dreams.

“There is nothing better than these models to move us forward,” he believes. Bernard said: Quebecers can be successful […] There is nothing stopping us from developing world-class companies in Quebec. Stunts, couch-tard, CGI, that’s all. And Quebecers must continue to believe that this is possible and must be done.”

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