Guy Saint-Pierre, who was the architect of the merger of the engineering companies SNC and Lavalin, in 1991, died Sunday afternoon in his residence in Montreal, at the age of 87, following a a long illness. He was surrounded by his wife and three children.
Posted at 10:04 p.m.
Mr. Saint-Pierre was a minister in the Liberal governments of Robert Bourassa in 1970 and 1973. He was also actively involved in the creation of the Société de la Baie-James, before returning to his job as an engineer, where he continued to work to build modern Quebec.
A native of Windsor, in the Eastern Townships, a graduate in civil engineering from Laval University in 1957 and holder of a master’s degree from the University of London obtained in 1959, Guy Saint-Pierre was responsible in 1967 for the hydroelectric development of the falls Churchill, Labrador.
In 1970, Guy Saint-Pierre became Liberal MP for the riding of Verchères and Minister of Education in the first government of Robert Bourassa. In 1972, he was appointed Minister of Industry and Commerce, a position he held until the election of the Parti Québécois in November 1976.
“It was Guy Saint-Pierre who was the instigator of the creation of the Société de développement de la Baie-James, the government corporation that had the mandate to oversee this huge hydroelectric development project. He defended this project in the Council of Ministers, he was keen on it”, reminded The Press Sunday evening Ronald Poupart, who was director of the Liberal Party of Quebec at the time.
“Even his political opponents respected him, remembers Philippe Angers, a friend of the family who rubbed shoulders with Mr. Saint-Pierre in his political life. So are his engineering competitors. He was a man who walked into a room and commanded respect. »
From politics to engineering
After his stint in politics, the trained engineer joined John Labatt in 1977, and the following year was named president and chief operating officer of Ogilvie Mills, a division of Labatt.
In 1988, the engineering company SNC recruited him to become its president and chief operating officer. It was he who orchestrated the acquisition and merger of the Lavalin firm in 1991, which was then experiencing serious financial difficulties. SNC-Lavalin becomes one of the five largest engineering consulting firms in the world.
“I think he had a much broader vision than that of Quebec,” said Philippe Angers. He helped leave Quebec, which was not leaving much. »
Mr. Saint-Pierre remained president and chief executive officer of the new SNC-Lavalin until 1996, when he became chairman of the board, a position he held until 2002.
“He was a shadow builder. He is not someone who has sought the spotlight in his life. Maybe he was not of a generation to run the cameras, “confided to The Press a family friend, who asked to remain anonymous out of respect for his loved ones.
Outreach for Quebec
In 2001, Guy Saint-Pierre was the first Francophone appointed Chairman of the Board of the Royal Bank; he remained so until 2004. At the same time, he became a sought-after director and sat on the boards of many large companies such as BCE, Alcan, General Motors of Canada, Stelco and Suncor.
In 1994, Guy Saint-Pierre was named CEO of the Year in Canada and, in 1995, he was chosen to become President of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. Over the years, he accumulated honorary doctorates, his career being recognized by six institutions, including Concordia University, Laval University and the Royal Military College Saint-Jean. In 2009, he became a Grand Officer of the National Order of Quebec. He has also been a Companion of the Order of Canada since 2002.
“A little guy from Victoriaville [lieu de ses études secondaires], it’s really fabulous, what he did, ”says Philippe Angers.