Andre Boisclair began teaching at Concordia this semester. The former Parti Quebecois leader is teaching Strategic Communication at Concordia’s School of Public Affairs, along with former Liberal Party insider, John Parisella. According to Boisclair, the class is about “communication in the public sector, the private sector and the NGO sector [and will cover] internal and external communication, the media, the media’s role [and] crisis management.”
The Concordian’s Francois Lemieux sat down with Boislclair this past week to sound him out on how he’s adapting to life as a teacher now that he’s out of the political sphere.
You’ve probably heard about the controversy surrounding your decision not to apply to the part-time faculty association. Can you tell me what happened?
I’m not familiar with this controversy. I’m almost giving my time to be there. I’m just very happy to have an occasion to share my experience and to give back to students and the only reason why I’m there in the class: helping John [Parisella] during the semester.
You have no experience as a teacher. Do you have any apprehensions?
Not at all. I’ve been giving many speeches myself. I hold a Masters from Harvard University from the Kennedy School of Government. I’m very excited, I think the best ones to ask would be the students in the class.
What do you think you can teach to the students of the School of Community Affairs?
I think I’ll bring a great experience, particularly in the governmental sector. I’ll also bring a great experience with the media too.
Do you think you’ll make a career out of teaching?
Well, this is just an offer that was made to me by Mr. Parisella and I’m very happy to have a chance to be in contact with the students. I’m happy to give back and we’ll see for the future. I’m also working as an environmental consultant right now. This is my main concern right now. This is where I’m giving much of my time.
Do you think students will react negatively to your being a sovereigntist?
Not at all. The university is a place of debate, open to all ideas. It is a great place to live by the concept of free expression.
Is coming to Concordia a sign that you’re no longer a sovereigntist?
What are you getting at?
Well, I don’t know, a lot of people say that a sovereigntist might have rather chosen to go to Universite de Montréal or UQAM to teach.
Why is that?
Well. Because they’re French universities.
Are you defending the principle of segregation sir?
No, I’m not.
If you’re a sovereigntist, you’re not entitled to go to Concordia or to McGill or whatever?
No, I’m just saying that they’re anglophone universities and.
Universities are about ideas and debate.
Okay, well usually anglophones have voted at 95 per cent in favour of “No” in referendums, so I was .
And what’s your point?
Well. I was just asking .
I believe in free speech sir. Universities are places that are open to ideals and open to debate. The question is, will it be a great experience for the students? I think it will be. We have great discussions in class and I think that the students will be happy to have face to face discussions with me, Mr. Parisella and Mr. Goldblum, who is giving the class with us.
The sovereigntist movement is at a stalemate right now. In the eighties, it took the Meech Lake Accord crisis to revive it. What do you think it will take nowadays?
I don’t comment on politics anymore. I leave politics out of the classroom.
Without commenting on politics, do you think that returning to politics one day could be a possibility?
I’m out of politics sir. That’s my objective right now. I’ve given more than 17 years to politics. I think I’ve done my personal contribution to politics.
You were talking about crisis management before. What was the greatest crisis you had to face in your life?
Well, I’ve been through different crises. The basic idea of crisis management is about leadership issues and how to exercise leadership, how do you intervene in a group? That was my main focus at Harvard and that is what I’ll be teaching to the students in the class.
Universities are crucially under-funded in Quebec. What needs to be done to address the problem?
I was always a supporter of more important public funding. I support the same idea. That’s the idea I tried to debate during the electoral campaign. Education should be the priority for Quebec.
Do you believe that free education is viable?
In our days?
Well all depends on the conditions under which it would be installed. I think that students need to make a contribution in a form or another.