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Chantal Hébert

Chantal Hébert
Born (1954-04-24) April 24, 1954
Occupation Writer, journalist
Genre non-fiction, creative non-fiction
Notable works French Kiss[1]

Chantal St-Cyr Hébert, OC (born April 24, 1954) is a Canadian journalist and political commentator.


  • Life and career 1
    • The "Lobster Pot" story 1.1
    • Pundit and author 1.2
  • Honours and awards 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4

Life and career

Hébert was born in Ottawa, Ontario. She is the eldest of five children. In 1966 her family moved to Toronto where the 12-year-old was enrolled in École secondaire catholique Monseigneur-de-Charbonnel. She then attended Ontario's first francophone high school, École secondaire Étienne-Brûlé.[2] After high school, Hébert obtained a BA degree in 1976 in political science from the bilingual Glendon College of York University.[3] She is a Senior Fellow of Massey College at the University of Toronto.

Hébert began her media career in 1975 at the regional television and radio newsroom of the French language Radio-Canada facility in Toronto. She eventually became their reporter covering provincial politics at Queen's Park. After Radio-Canada appointed Hébert to cover federal politics on Parliament Hill, she worked as bureau chief for Montreal's Le Devoir and La Presse. She has written columns appearing in The London Free Press, the Ottawa Citizen and the National Post, and currently in Le Devoir and the Toronto Star.

The "Lobster Pot" story

In the summer of 1995, Hébert broke the story in La Presse that the 1995 Quebec referendum question's guarantee of an offer of partnership with the rest of Canada before declaring sovereignty following a "Yes" vote was a sham. Hébert wrote that in a June 13 meeting with fifteen foreign diplomats, Quebec Premier Jacques Parizeau had stated that what mattered most was to get a majority vote from Quebec citizens for the proposal to secede from Canada because with that, Quebecers would be trapped "like lobsters thrown in boiling water" (in French: "comme des homards dans l'eau bouillante").[4]

At the time, Parizeau was in France and in his place Quebec's deputy premier, Bernard Landry, who was not present at the meeting, declared categorically that the report was false. However, Hébert clarified her sources, stating that the information had been given to Foreign Affairs Canada in an official briefing by Jan Fietelaars, the Ambassador from the Netherlands who had been a participant at the meeting. In addition, she had backed up the claim by having it confirmed by three others: Ambassador Christian Fellens of Belgium, who was also present at the meeting, and two other diplomatic attendees who spoke off the record. The remark hampered support for the "Yes" side as a result.[5]

Pundit and author

Currently, Hébert is a national affairs writer with the Toronto Star as well as a guest columnist for Le Devoir and L'actualite. She frequently appears on CBC Television's The National as a member of the "At Issue" political panel and is a regular participant in various other French- and English-language television and radio current affairs programs.[2][6]

Hébert received the 2005 Public Service Citation of the Association of Professional Executives of the Public Service of Canada (APEX). In February 2006, the Public Policy Forum voted her the Hyman Solomon Award for Excellence in Public Policy Journalism.[3] She delivered the Michener Lecture at Queen's University in 2008.

In June 2006, Hébert took two months' leave of absence from the Toronto Star to write her first book, French Kiss: Stephen Harper’s Blind Date with Quebec (Knopf Canada, February 2007, ISBN 978-0-676-97907-7). French Kiss received shortlist honours for the 2008 "Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction".[1]

In September 2014, her second book was released, The Morning After: The 1995 Quebec Referendum and the Day that Almost Was (in French, Confessions post-référendaires: Les acteurs politiques de 1995 et le scénario d'un oui). The book, cowritten with Jean Lapierre, was a shortlisted nominee for the 2015 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing.[7]

Honours and awards

She was invested as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2012, Giving Her the Right To the Post Nominal Letters "OC."[8]

Honorary Degrees
Country Date School Degree
 Quebec May 2009 Bishop's University Doctor of Civil Law (DCL)[9]
 Ontario Spring 2012 York University Doctor of Laws (LL.D)[10]
 Ontario June 19, 2013 University of Western Ontario Doctor of Laws (LL.D)[11][12]
 Quebec June 2014 Concordia University Doctor of Laws (LL.D)[13][14]
 Nova Scotia May 14, 2015 Mount Saint Vincent University Doctor of Humane Letters (DHL)[15]


  1. ^ a b Faculty of Arts, , Wilfrid Laurier University, Headlines (News Releases), Retrieved November 22, 2012
  2. ^ a b CBC News, , The National, Retrieved November 22, 2012
  3. ^ a b Book Lounge Canada,
  4. ^ Wilson-Smith, Anthony; Fulton, E. Kaye (July 24, 1995). "Parizeau's Lobster Flap".  
  5. ^ Wyatt, Nelson (2 Jun 2015). "Ex-Quebec premier Jacques Parizeau dead at 84". The Canadian Press]. Retrieved 27 Oct 2015. 
  6. ^ "Chantal Hebert Speaker Profile at The Lavin Agency". January 23, 2006. Retrieved 2015-05-18. 
  7. ^ "Shaughnessy Cohen Prize finalists announced". The Globe and Mail, January 27, 2015.
  8. ^ "The Governor General of Canada > Find a Recipient". May 24, 2012. Retrieved 2015-05-18. 
  9. ^ "Bishop's University News" (PDF). 2009. Retrieved 2015-05-18. 
  10. ^ Current Students. "Honorary Degree Recipients | University Secretariat". Retrieved 2015-05-18. 
  11. ^ "The University of Western Ontario : Honorary Degrees Awarded, 1881 – present" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-05-18. 
  12. ^ "Western Convocation – June 19, Chantal Hebert". June 16, 2014. Retrieved 2015-05-18. 
  13. ^ "Honorary Degree Citation – Chantal Hébert | Concordia University Archives". Retrieved 2015-05-18. 
  14. ^ "Chantal Hébert, 2014 Concordia honorary doctorate". May 7, 2014. Retrieved 2015-05-18. 
  15. ^ "MSVU – Honorary Degree Recipients". Retrieved 2015-05-18. 

External links

  • Speakers Spotlight, , biography, Retrieved November 22, 2012
  • Chantal Hébert on Twitter
  • Chantal Hébert at Library of Congress Authorities, with 2 catalogue records
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