Better know a Canadian functionary: the Ambassador to France

Canada’s first proper foreign representative was started in 1882, when the federal government established an Agent-General to France, at the behest of the Quebec upper crust. The Agent-General was made an Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary in 1928 and lasted until Canada broke off ties to Vichy France in 1942. It re-established contact as a full Ambassador after the liberation of Paris in 1944.

The Canadian Embassy in France is at 35 avenue de Montaigne in the 8th Arrondissement  of Paris. The Ambassador resides nearby at 135 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. There are also Canadian consulates in Lille, Lyon, Toulouse, Nice and the City of Monaco. The Ambassador to France is also the Ambassador to Andorra and the Ambassador to Monaco.

The representatives of Canada to France have been:

Louis-Roch-Hector Fabre (1834-1910), 1882-1910. Fabre was a Montreal lawyer and journalist whose father was a newsagent and bookseller, at whose store the young Fabre would listen to such important customers as Papineau, Lafontaine and Viger as they sat and discussed the issues of the day. Fabre later sat as a Liberal senator from 1875 to 1882. Fabre was initially appointed to act as agent-general for the province of Quebec, but was given a federal mandate later in the year of his appointment, and held both posts until his death. The British ambassador to France at the time, the Viscount Lyons, was resentful of Fabre, but Fabre was on good terms with the Canadian High Commissioner to Britain, Sir Alexander Galt, and Galt’s successor, Sir Charles Tupper, who was the only other Canadian foreign representative at the time.

The Hon. Philippe Roy PC (1868-1948), 1911-38. Born in Quebec, Roy trained as a doctor and moved to Edmonton in 1897. He was a Liberal senator from 1906 to 1911 before becoming Agent to France. When Canada opened the French Legation in 1928, Roy became the second Canadian to get diplomatic privilege, after US minister Vincent Massey got it the year before.

The Rt. Hon. Maj.-Gen. Georges-Philéas Vanier PC DSO MC CD (1888-1967), 1939-41, 1944-53. Vanier was born in Montreal and got a law degree before signing up as an officer in the Royal 22e Régiment in World War I, where he lost a leg at Chérisy in 1918. Vanier was then aide de camp to Governors-General Lord Byng and Lord Willingdon for most of the 1920s, except between 1925 and 1926 when he was in command of the Royal 22e. He was secretary to the Canadian High Commission in London from 1930 to 1939, when he became Minister to France. Vanier fled Paris after the fall of France in 1940, and resigned in disgust as Minister in 1941 over the actions of the Vichy regime. He returned to Canada to briefly command the Army in Quebec before returning to Europe and acting as the representative to the Free French under De Gaulle, as well as the governments-in-exile of the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Greece and Yugoslavia. Vanier became Canada’s first Ambassador to France in 1944 and served until 1953, during which time he and his wife Pauline helped thousands of refugees immigrate to Canada. Vanier retired briefly from public life to pursue business interests for six years, then was Governor-General from 1959 to his death in 1967.

Jean Désy (1893-1960), 1954-57. A graduate of Laval and the Sorbonne, Désy was a career diplomat, and had already been Minister to the Netherlands and Belgium, and ambassador to Brazil and Italy.

Pierre Dupuy CC (1896-1969), 1958-63. Dupuy went to U de Montréal and the Sorbonne and joined the foreign service, acting as secretary to the Canadian legation from 1928 onward. Dupuy stayed in France after its fall and acted as chargé d’affaires in Vanier’s absence; since Britain severed its diplomatic ties to France after 1940, Dupuy provided vital information to the Allies on the political situation in Vichy France before Canada finally withdrew diplomatic relations in November 1942, Dupuy returning to London to serve under Vanier. Dupuy returned to the Continent in 1944 with the Belgian government-in-exile and became Minister to the Netherlands in 1945 and Ambassador to Italy in 1952 before becoming Ambassador to France, where he served until his retirement. From 1963 to 1968, Dupuy was Commissioner General of the 1967 International and Universal Exposition (Expo 67) in Montreal.

The Rt. Hon. Jules Léger PC CC CMM CD (1913-80), 1964-68. Léger went to U de Montréal and the Sorbonne, taught diplomatic history at the University of Ottawa, and joined the foreign service, becoming Ambassador to Mexico in 1953, then served as deputy minister of External Affairs, Representative to NATO and Ambassador to Italy before becoming Ambassador to France. He returned to Canada and served as deputy minister to the Secretary of State for Canada for four years before being appointed Ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg, a posting cut short when he was appointed Governor-General in 1974, and was the first GG to eschew the traditional Windsor uniform. Six months into his term, however, Léger suffered a stroke which left him enfeebled, causing his wife, Gabrielle, to help him in many of his duties. He died in November 1980, 22 months after leaving office.

Joseph Eximer Paul André Beaulieu (1913-2007), 1968-70. Born in Outremont and trained as a lawyer, Paul Beaulieu served in the Department of External Affairs from 1942 to 1977. Before coming to Paris he had been ambassador to Lebanon, Iraq, Brazil, and the UN, and afterward served as Ambassador to Portugal.

The Hon. Joseph Alphonse Léo Cadieux PC OC (1908-2005), 1970-75. A journalist from Saint-Jerôme, Léo Cadieux was the Liberal MP for Terrebonne from 1962 to 1968 and for Labelle from 1968 to 1970. He was Associate Defence Minister from 1965 to 1967 ad Minister of National Defence from 1967 to 1970.

The Hon. Gérard Pelletier PC CC (1919-97), 1975-81. Pelletier began his journalism career writing for Le Devoir before becoming Editor-in-Chief of La Presse in 1961. He was Liberal MP for Hochelaga from 1965 to 1975, and was Secretary of State for Canada and Minister of Communications under Trudeau. He was later Ambassador to the UN from 1981 to 1984.

The Hon. Michel Dupuy PC (1930-now), 1981-85. Born in Paris, Dupuy was a diplomat and had earlier been Ambassador to the UN. Later he was the Liberal MP for Laval West from 1993 and 1996 and was both Minister of Communications and Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism under Chrétien, during which time they were merged to form the Department of Canadian Heritage.

The Hon. Lucien Bouchard PC GOQ (1938-now), 1985-88. Bouchard was born near Alma and was a lawyer and public servant before being appointed as Ambassador. He was then the Progressive Conservative MP for Lac-Saint-Jean from 1988 to 1990 and was Secretary of State for Canada and Minister of the Environment under Mulroney before leaving to found the Bloc Quebecois, which he led until 1996, during which time he campaigned for Quebec separatism in the 1995 referendum and lost a leg to a flesh-eating disease. He was thereafter PQ premier of Quebec from 1996 until his retirement in 2001.

Claude Talbot Charland (1934-93), 1988-93. Charland was a career diplomat and was ambassador to Guatemala, Mexico, Italy and Libya before being sent to Paris, where he died of cancer.

The Hon. Benoît Bouchard CM PC (1940-2014), 1993-96. Bouchard was the Progressive Conservative MP for Roberval from 1984 to 1983 and was Minister of State for Transport, Secretary of State for Canada, Minister of Employment and Immigration, Minister of Transport, Minister of Industry, Science and Technology, and Minister of National Health and Welfare under Mulroney. He was later Chair of the Transportation Safety Board.

Jacques Silva Roy, 1996-2000. Roy, a career diplomat, Roy was ambassador to Yemen, Somalia, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Switzerland, and retired after leaving France.

Raymond Chrétien OC (1942-now), 2000-03. The nephew of Jean Chrétien, Raymond Chrétien went to U de Laval and became a lawyer before joining External Affairs, and was ambassador to Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, Zaire, Mexico, Guatemala, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the US before coming to France.

Claude Laverdure, 2003-07. A career diplomat, Laverdure was also ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg, Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Zaire and Haiti.

Marc Robert Lortie (1948-now), 2007-12. A career diplomat, Lortie was also ambassador to Chile, Paraguay and Spain.

The Hon. Lawrence Cannon PC (1947-now), 2012-now. Grandson of Liberal Cabinet ministers Lucien Cannon and Charles Power and great-grandson of Supreme Court chief justice Sir Charles Fitzpatrick, Cannon was Liberal MNA for La Peltrie from 1985 to 1994 and Minister of Communications from 1990 to 1994 under Robert Bourassa. Cannon was then the Conservative MP for Pontiac from 2006 to 2011, and was Minister of Transport and Infrastructure and Minister of Foreign Affairs under Harper.


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