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Shared in accordance with the "fair dealing" provisions, Section 29, of the Copyright Act.

 

Harper's newest recruit comes with a superhero's pedigree

Deirdre Mc Murdy, Ottawa Citizen, 21 Sept 06

 

If Jacques Fauteux didn't exist, the Prime Minister's Office would have to invent him.

 

But even then, chances are pretty good that no one would believe he's for real.

 

Mr. Fauteux is the new recruit on Stephen Harper's communications team and his background reflects the Tory government's two principal points of focus in this fall session of Parliament: Canada's increasingly controversial military presence in Afghanistan and building political support in Quebec.

 

A former lieutenant-commander with piercing blue eyes, Mr. Fauteux, 41, joined the Canadian navy out of high school and trained as a diver before being sent to the Royal Military College and subsequently, to Royal Roads University near Victoria (where he graduated at the top of his MBA class, specializing in strategic communications.)

 

In 1990, after the bitter confrontation between residents of the town of Oka, Que., and the Kahnawake Mohawk Reserve, he served as communications counsel to former chief justice Brian Dickson at the Royal Commission on Aboriginal People. (The report was published in 1993.)

 

On the heels of that, Mr. Fauteux became a key player in the

Department of National Defence initiative to 're-brand' and improve its image in the wake of the 1993 torture scandal in Somalia. Among the programs he helped to establish is Combat Camera, a DND service that provides video footage and photographic stills of Canadian military engagement to

media organizations.

 

'He's one of the first persons in the history of DND who actually went to the media and asked what they needed -- and then provided it,' says one former colleague. 'It went a long way to literally improving the image of the Forces after Somalia.'

 

His relationship with his new boss at PMO, communications director Sandra Buckler, harks back to this same era when she worked for Tom Siddon, minister of defence in Kim Campbell's Tory government, and he was at DND.

 

In 1998, when Swiss Air Flight 111 crashed near Peggy's Cove, N.S., Mr. Fauteux did double duty: as a diver retrieving parts of the wreckage and as the official media spokesman of the Canadian military.

 

While that experience in communicating on behalf of the military will be invaluable in the debate over Canada's commitment of troops to Afghanistan -- and Mr. Harper's attempts to hold fast in the face of mounting casualties -- Mr. Fauteux's political pedigree is equally impressive.

 

He is the grandson of Gaspard Fauteux, a Liberal dentist and

entrepreneur from St-Hyacinthe, Que., who -- despite his lack of legal training or lengthy political experience -- served as the Speaker of the House of Commons (1945 to 1949 under Mackenzie King) and lieutenant-governor of Quebec. Gaspard, in turn, was a grandson and nephew of former Quebec premiers.

 

Fluently bilingual (he also speaks Italian), Mr. Fauteux is expected to be a powerful asset in the Tory campaign to build political support in Quebec through the provincial media.

 

A recently divorced father of two daughters, Mr. Fauteux is an avid skier, who also volunteers as a ski patroller. He's also a classical music buff who, until his appointment earlier this week, was on the board of directors of Thirteen Strings, an Ottawa chamber music orchestra.

 

All he needs to complete the package is a cape -- and maybe a

decoder ring.

 


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