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The confidence that comes with a healthy exchange of ideas

June 15, 2015, 10:52am

To build a strong, assertive society, there must be a focus on education and a healthy exchange of ideas. Only then can the most productive reflections emerge and the greatest talents flourish, for the greater benefit of everyone.

Since the death of Jacques Parizeau, I have witnessed the extent to which a healthy society is also able to build a climate of confidence in its potential and future. Opinions may differ on the destination or the measurement of success, but those who believe in the wellbeing of others, who have confidence in their intelligence, and who value their institutions of research and learning can only celebrate the democratic process as represented by an exchange of ideas.

Over the years, our universities have conferred degrees on many illustrious graduates. This year, the Université de Montréal awarded more PhDs than any other university in the country, and it bestowed honorary doctorates on Nathalie Bondil, Clément Duhaime and Christian Gouriéroux in appreciation of their exceptional contributions. In accepting her degree, Ms. Bondil, Director and Chief Curator of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, spoke of the dynamism of Quebec’s cultural environment. The museum she leads nourishes the intellect and opens up new horizons, and by recognizing Ms. Bondil’s achievements in this regard, the Université de Montréal is underscoring their importance to society.

Last year, the Université awarded an honorary doctorate to Jacques Parizeau. As he shook my hand following the ceremony, he generously expressed his appreciation for the moment and respectfully spoke of the political leader we had both known well, one as an adversary, the other as a close colleague. In this single gesture, not only were we acknowledging the weight of this solemn ceremony held by one of the world’s most respected universities – we were also confirming a shared and strong confidence in the future.

I also invite you to read my homage to Jacques Parizeau published by the Journal de Montréal.

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