Paul Desmarais chose business over politics, but his perceived influence extended even beyond Canada’s borders

National Post | News

When he was getting his start in business, Paul Desmarais was told by an uncle that he could be prime minister one day. But to Mr. Desmarais, who had seen his uncle sink into depression after losing a municipal election, defeat at the ballot box was worse than bankruptcy.

“I said, ‘No, I want to be a businessman,’ ” he recounted to France’s Le Point in 2008. “ ‘If I’m bankrupt, it will be my fault. I don’t want to depend on a guy in a corner who’s going to vote against me.’ ”

If I’m bankrupt, it will be my fault

But while he never stood for election, Mr. Desmarais, who has died at age 86, was no stranger to the halls of power. From Robert Bourassa to Jean Charest, from Pierre Trudeau to Paul Martin and from George H. W. Bush to Nicolas Sarkozy, Mr. Desmarais cultivated close…

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