A coffee with Bernard Derome | A man today without reservation

The Breakfast Club is incredibly lucky: to have none other than Bernard Derome as its ambassador. The latter did not hesitate to directly challenge Prime Minister François Legault and certain of his ministers (Christian Dubé, Chantal Rouleau, Bernard Drainville) so that the organization receives more money.

Result: in its latest budget, the provincial government reserved an additional $25 million over five years for this network which is present in more than 500 schools and which offers breakfast to 79,000 children in the province. With this government assistance and that of donors, the annual budget increases to 15 million per year.

“I, who don’t know poverty, tell myself that it doesn’t make damned sense for children not to eat in the morning,” Bernard Derome told me during a warm meeting in his condo in the Ahuntsic district. Education is fundamental and essential, we must constantly remind ourselves of this. »


Bernard Derome

You will have understood, for him, the Breakfast Club is more than a matter of empty stomachs. “A child who has a full stomach is a child who will be more attentive, who will perhaps be less violent, who will undoubtedly have less desire to quit,” he says.

A gentleman among gentlemen, Bernard Derome refuses to tell me that his presence played a capital role in the increase in subsidies. “It’s a team effort. There are people who work hard and who are there full time. »

The Breakfast Club is the new cause that Bernard Derome supports after that of La Maison du Père. It was at the suggestion of his partner (whom he affectionately calls Lulu) that he offered his help. Father of three children and grandfather of five grandchildren (he proudly shows me the photos displayed in a library), he is overwhelmed by the case of disadvantaged children.

After being at the head of TV news of Radio-Canada for 32 years (from 1970 to 1998, then from 2004 to 2008), Bernard Derome was able to put aside this famous duty of reserve and give free rein to his emotions.


Bernard Derome

When I see stories like little Aylan washed up on a beach or the little girl who spent days in a car riddled with bullets in Gaza, I melt. I tell myself that I can bawl. And I bawl often.

Bernard Derome

At 80 years old, this former dropout (he is the one who uses the expression) today defends an education system which, while not perfect, “holds up”, according to him. “Everyone has their own coming out, I am not afraid to say that I am a dropout. I left the classical course, much to my father’s despair. »

The latter was furious to see his son abandon his studies. But a few years later, when he saw young Bernard at the helm of TV newsdaily television event which is celebrating its 70th these dayse birthday, he will feel great pride. “When I think about it, I tell myself that I had a narrow escape,” adds Bernard Derome.


Bernard Derome

The danger of velocity

The other subject which makes Bernard Derome react strongly concerns the threats that some brandish about the future of public television and radio. I am referring here to Pierre Poilievre. “That doesn’t make any sense. That would be a scandal. But that won’t happen. He’ll have to swallow his gum. I do not believe it. »

Bernard Derome also does not hesitate to talk about the “left-handedness” of the current CEO of CBC/Radio-Canada, Catherine Tait. “When she asked the employees to go walk in the street, I couldn’t believe it. She won’t be here in six months anyway. »

It must be said that Bernard Derome is intractable when it comes to ethical rules. A friend who worked with him told me before I met: “You’ll see, Bernard is straight!” » An example of this? It was customary at Radio-Canada for the headliners to do commercials. It was a way to inflate salaries. One day, Chevrolet asked that Bernard Derome promote one of its cars.

“I announced that the body of Pierre Laporte had been found in the trunk of a Chevrolet. Do you see the questionable link? I was offered $75,000 in 1970. It was huge, but I found it unacceptable. I went to my boss, Marc Thibault, and told him I couldn’t do that. I won and it became a norm after that. I made a few enemies. »

When asked to talk about the current reality of those who produce information, Bernard Derome avoids judging the work of his young colleagues, preferring to criticize the demands of their time.


Bernard Derome

What is dangerous is the velocity. Everything goes faster today. But you have to think before making a move or expressing an opinion. Velocity harms the historicity of things. That’s the damn problem. Journalists often walk on a thin line. It’s almost like tightrope walking. It’s not easy for them.

Bernard Derome

Happiness according to Bernard Derome

You can imagine that I took advantage of this meeting with Bernard Derome to find out about him and try to find out what his daily life is like. But hey, it’s not easy to get a man to talk about his private life. I dared to ask him what made him happy today. Time stood still. Then after a few seconds…

“Oh dear… That’s a big question. First of all, to be healthy and to have the capacity to carry out projects. And of course, the love of my daughters, my grandchildren and that of my partner. »

Bernard Derome crossed what he calls “4 times 20” last January, a multiple he would have done without. He didn’t want to have a big party like we wanted to do. “We did this with the kids and a few close friends. »

At 80 years old, Bernard Derome continues to have busy days. He returned to running after an injury. He also bikes and downhill skis. His involvement in the UQAM Institute of International Studies and the production of documentary projects keep him wide awake. “It’s important for me to do this because I continue to be ignorant. It forces me to read and document myself. »

Bernard Derome has not often returned to Radio-Canada since his departure, for fear of being seen as a “stepmother”. But he still visited the new building. “For the purposes of a program, I was asked to move around the news room. There were young people who said to themselves: “the baby is him” and older people. People came up to me and hugged me… It was very moving… I’m not going any further. »

Bernard Derome recalls this moment with moist eyes. Memories resurface and have a certain effect. The absence of the damn duty of reserve takes care of the rest.

Questionnaire without filter

Coffee and me : I fall in love with the smell of coffee. My mother made exceptional coffee cream! I love coffee ice cream and my morning coffee, strong and black, is a sine qua non after my fruit and cereal.

People, dead or alive, that I would like to gather around my table : Winston Churchill, Ho Chi Minh and Simone Veil.

The last book I read : Godin, by Jonathan Livernois. Gérald Godin was my chief researcher on the show Today. I rediscover the intellectual righteousness of the journalist and the politician.

A historical event that I would have liked to experience : The liberation of Paris, August 24, 1944, with the arrival of General Leclerc’s armored vehicles and, the next day, the triumphant entry of General de Gaulle and his first victory speech.

Who is Bernard Derome?

  • In 1963, he made his debut on the show Surboum and friends at CJBR Télémédia, station affiliated with Radio-Canada, in Rimouski.
  • Journalist on the show Here (1966) and on the show Today (1967)
  • Head of antenna TV newsfrom 1970 to 1998 and from 2004 to 2008
  • Winner of the Guy-Mauffette Prize (Prix du Québec) in 2016
  • Judith-Jasmin Tribute Prize in 2022

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reference: www.lapresse.ca

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