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Québec’s 20 most trusted individuals: 4th and 5th positions [post 3 of 11] (#258)

Let’s continue our look at the top 20 of the most trusted people in Québec (ranked by Québécois themselves).

Like anyone who is popular with the people (especially those with high “trust” factors), these are people to watch.

The usual formula is Trust” + media appeal = “soft power”.  Often, people like this can morph into something different with time — with more social, societal or political clout.

#4  Sophie Thibeault

Sophie Thibeault’s ranking in the top 10 (and especially in the top 5) is one of the rankings which surprised me the most.

I would have thought she would have placed lower in the rankings, considering that she is a late-night anchor of a TVA news program which has quite a local focus (which is how I feel about a good deal of TVA’s main channel’s news programming).

I will say upfront that I think Thibeault does an excellent job of reporting on local news — and she has more than 10 years of experience to prove that she is the one who deserves the job.

Her news program, TVA 22h, is broadcast Québec-wide, and caters only to a Québec market (Québec news, for Québec people).  You don’t get the feel it reaches much further than that.  There is very little comprehensive news coverage beyond a 100km radius of Montréal.  And when there is news about matters outside Québec (or even in other regions of Québec), the approach is generally only from the angle of someone living within 100kms of the TVA studies.

Personally, I would have left the top 5 rankings (and even the top 10 rankings) for other people who report on matters which have a broader, worldlier aspect.    But, obviously large swaths of the population disagree with me.  I suppose this goes to show :

  1. The extent to which people care most about what is happening in their immediate backyard (versus events in other jurisdictions), and how much weight they accord to those who cover such issues,
  2. Just how much more attention people will accord to events within a few kilometres of where they live, rather than events a little further down the road.

Caring about your immediate neighbours and their issues of course is a good thing.  It probably is human nature to pay more attention to matters happening immediately around oneself, and yes, people should care about what is happening locally (that is precisely why local news exists).

Following local news is not a bad thing.  But it can be damaging if people do not balance their local news and perspectives with events occurring a little further afield (not caring about others who are a little further away is a bad thing).

I personally have felt that news programs, such as TVA 22h, are part of the reasons why portions of Québec’s population have very little knowledge about what is happening elsewhere in Canada.  It is an interesting topic for conversation.

Likewise, English Canada also has equivalents; those Anglophone “national” news programs which rarely report what Québécois (and even Francophones elsewhere in Canada) are experiencing and living, and which almost completely ignores their points of views.  Thus it’s a door which swings both ways (I find that Global News is a good example of this, and CTV also has a habit of falling into this trap.  Nor is CBC totally immune from it either).

Kind of sad, isn’t it?

That’s why I would not have ranked “overly local” newscasters such as Sophie Thibeault (those whose news programs actually propagate and accentuate the notion of the Two Solitudes), as people who I would “trust” the most.  Would you trust a newscaster who reports that a pot hole in Montréal is more important “national” news than a school bus of children which went over a cliff in British Columbia, or how a new technology has been developed which reduces oil-sand emissions by 20%? (this is a bit of a hyperbole, but I have seen very similar reporting styles on TVA 22h).   I have always had the feeling that such newscasts are only telling “half the story”, or “half-truths”, if you will.  But that’s just my take on things.

Regardless, I can still understand why most people list Sophie Thibeault as one of their most trusted individuals.  She’s the likeable next door neighbour who will tell you, over the fence, what is happening with all the other neighbours in the immediate vicinity (but not necessarily what is happening in the next neighbourhood).

#5 Denis Coderre

I am not at all surprised that the mayor of Montréal, Denis Coderre, has ranked in the top five.   I previously wrote a post on the dynamics of the Denis Coderre / Régis Lebaume duo (the mayors of Montréal & Québec City).

Prior to Denis Coderre arriving on the scene as mayor, Montréal went through two mayoralships which were both marked by corruption (with the first being marked by a water-metre and construction company contract-granting scandal, and the second mayor being outright arrested for corruption in front of television cameras).

Coderre was well known to the public as a 30 year veteran federal politician (Liberal) who had proven his ability to stand apart and to avoid scandal.  He also had a frank “man-of-the-people” style of talking – the type of person you’d want to have a beer with in a bar as you talk about hockey and tell a few jokes.

In light of Montréal’s corruption scandals during the several years prior to Coderre’s arrival, his new style appealed to many people – a breath of fresh air.   Since becoming mayor, Denis Coderre has also become a media celebrity, and is treated as a star as he makes the media rounds from talk show to talk show, and all the events in between.

Since becoming Montréal’s mayor, in November 2013, his honeymoon with the people has never ended … something rare in Québec and Canadian politics.

We’ll continue to look at more of the top 20 in upcoming posts.

Québec’s 20 most trusted individuals: 1st to 3rd positions [post 2 of 11] (#257)

This is a continuation in the series of who Québécois say they trust the most (based on a recent poll of Québécois).

This post will cover positions # 1 to # 3.

Despite my surprise at the position of a number of names (not to mention my surprise that certain individuals even made it on the list), I will try to give an explanation of reasons why these individuals may have found their way on to this list.

#1 – Pierre Bruneau

Pierre Bruneau is ranked the most trusted name in Québec. I also wrote a post about him quite a long time ago.

I can understand that he made his way onto the list, but I was initially quite surprised that he took the #1 spot.  But after a little bit of thought, I can understand why so many people chose him as the person they trust the most in Québec.

Bruneau is the head news anchor of the TVA television network (owned by Québecor).  Personally, I’m not a big fan of TVA news because I find it has too much of a tabloid / sensational aspect to it, and focuses too much on news (ie: a burst fire hydrant in Montréal could be its top news story of the evening as the rest of the world burns beyond Québec’s borders, in Canada or elsewhere).

But TVA does have a great deal of appeal for huge swaths of the population, and TVA (and Bruneau) does a very good job of reporting local news in Québec.  In fact, the TVA network and its evening news program have the highest ratings of all television networks in Québec.   I suppose it reflects the fact that people relate most to local aspects in their lives, and take the greatest interest in what they can physically see happening around them.  It is human nature I guess.  And Québécois have thus crowned their “local story teller” as their #1 most trusted person.

#2 – Mario Dumont

I’m not surprised that Mario Dumont is in the top five.  I would have placed him near the top also.

He is still quite young, at 44 years old.

In English Canada, people may remember Mario Dumont from 1995 as having been the young 20-something leader of the provincial Action Démocratique du Québec provincial political party.  He and his party formed the referendum’s pro-YES three-way political alliance with Lucien Bouchard (the then head of the Bloc Québécois) and Jacques Parizeau (the then head of the party Québécois).

Dumont approached the referendum at the time from a much more lucid and cautious point of view.  In that sense, he was much more of a soft-sovereignist, and was seen to want more autonomy for Québec rather than outright severed independence (which is what Jacques Parizeau was fighting for).

After the referendum, Dumont later became the official head of the opposition in Québec.  In 2009, he left politics and became a media news commentator, with his own shows on both talk radio and on TVA’s 24-hour news station, LCN.

Dumont holds centre-right views (his views align with much of what would be the Progressive Conservatives in other provinces).  As an on-air news commentator, I find he has done a very good job of de-politicizing himself.  .

I suppose he won the 2nd spot for being the person Québécois trust the most because

  • he was the “premier who never was”,
  • he always advocated for his beliefs and did not compromise them,
  • he is known for holding views which resonate with huge swaths of Québec’s population (both politically and socially). He would especially popular in the Eastern half of Québec (including the Québec City region) and regions a bit further afield from the immediate Montréal region. 
  • he has done a very good job of depoliticizing himself in his role as the host of numerous television and radio commentary news programs.

#3 – Paul Arcand

I previously wrote a post on Paul Arcand. Personally, I’m a little surprised he is in the # 3 spot, but I am not surprised he is the top 10.   I say this because he is very well liked in the Montréal region as Montréal’s most listened to talk radio-show host (on FM 98,5) http://www.985fm.ca/ .   Despite that his radio show does not have a broadcasting reach beyond a one hour drive from Montréal, it is nonetheless broadcast to a large enough region that a large percentage of Québec’s overall society regularly listens to him.

When people Montréal think of radio with an influence, they immediately think of Paul Arcand.

If you have ever been to Montréal, two things which you will notice are

  • that people are stuck in endless traffic jams during prolonged rush hours and eternal road construction – and thus they cannot escape Paul Arcand (not that they would want to 😉 ), and
  • many people have the radio playing in the background as they work, and Paul Arcand is one voice they regularly hear.

The next post will look at the #4 to #6 positions.