The former governor general and cabinet minister, and father of Liberal MP Dominic LeBlanc, has passed away at the age of 81. The Ottawa Citizen, Globe and Canadian Press have lengthy obituaries. CBC goes into the archives for video of a 1995 profile.
Statements from the Prime Minister, the leader of the opposition and the Governor General after the jump.
Stephen Harper. “I was deeply saddened to learn today of the death of Roméo LeBlanc.
“Mr. LeBlanc was a passionate Canadian who served his country with distinction and honour. As Canada’s 25th Governor General since Confederation, and Canada’s first Acadian-born Governor General, he performed his duties with vigour and conviction. He profoundly believed Canadians should know more about their own extraordinary, everyday courage; among his legacies is the creation of the Caring Canadian Award, a hallmark of Canada’s Honours System, dedicated to the recognition of voluntarism and community involvement on the part of our fellow citizens.
“Before earning distinction as Governor General, Roméo LeBlanc served his constituents in New Brunswick, and indeed all Canadians, as a parliamentarian from 1972 to 1994. He is also remembered for his distinguished service as Canada’s Minister of Fisheries, a post he held longer than any other Minister.
“Roméo LeBlanc will be greatly missed not only by those who knew him personally, his family, friends and former colleagues, and all those whose lives he touched directly, but also by those who knew him only as a public figure, one whose personal warmth and dedication to duty and his country are his legacy.
“On behalf of all Canadians, I offer my deepest condolences to his wife, Diana Fowler LeBlanc, to the children, and to his extended family and friends.”
Michaelle Jean. “Today is a day of mourning, as much for Canadians throughout the country as for the team at Rideau Hall in Ottawa and at the Citadelle of Québec.
“The news came to us from Grande Digue, New Brunswick, that my predecessor, the Right Honourable Roméo LeBlanc, governor general of Canada from 1995 to 1999, passed away, surrounded by his loved ones.
“My husband, Jean-Daniel Lafond, and I wish to express our sincere condolences to his family, his wife Mme Fowler LeBlanc, to his children, Dominic and Geneviève, to his friends, and to all Acadians for whom he was a proud ambassador.
“He was a man known for his simplicity, his serenity and his generosity. From the beginning of my mandate in 2005, not one day has passed that those who have worked with him in this house, which was both his home and workplace, have not shared with me fond memories of a man who cared so deeply about his fellow Canadians and their day-to-day lives. It is not surprising that his legacy was aimed at recognizing compassion and civic responsibility with the creation of the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award.
“In addition, he was a proud and tireless defender of la francophonie, both at home and abroad. He carried in him a love of the French language, in particular the accents, colours and rhythms of his Acadian roots, where he took his last breath, facing the ocean that cradled him in his youth.
“I invite all Canadians to sign the book of condolence, which will be available tomorrow, at Rideau Hall, from 10 am to 5 pm, and at the Citadelle, from 11 am to 5 pm.”
Michael Ignatieff. “Today we mourn the passing of a great Canadian, the Right Honourable Roméo LeBlanc.
“Roméo LeBlanc was a leader and a path-breaker, first as a schoolteacher, then as a journalist, a beloved Cabinet minister, a long-serving Senator, and finally as Canada’s 25th Governor-General—the first Atlantic Canadian and the first Acadian to hold the post.
“He served two prime ministers as press secretary, and two decades as a parliamentarian. And at every stage in his long and distinguished career, Roméo LeBlanc was first and last a devoted servant of Canada.
“As fisheries minister, Roméo LeBlanc defended Canadian sovereignty, helped to shape international maritime law, and oversaw sustained growth in the fishing industry. It was because of these accomplishments, and Roméo’s legendary rapport with Canada’s fishers, that he served as Minister of Fisheries and Oceans longer than any other Canadian.
“First as a Senator, then as Speaker of the Senate, and later as Governor-General, Roméo LeBlanc remained a staunch advocate for education and volunteerism, for the teaching of Canada’s history, and for improving conditions for Canada’s Aboriginal peoples.
“National Aboriginal Day, the Governor General’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History and the Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts all bear his signature. He also became a fixture in the rural communities and small towns of the Canadian landscape.
“On behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada and our parliamentary caucus, I offer our condolences to the LeBlanc family, among them his son, our colleague, the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc.
“At this difficult time, as we are saddened by Roméo’s passing, we celebrate his life, his achievements, and his place in the Canadian story for which he was always such a passionate advocate.”