Question of interest: “A dangerous gesture by Rousseau”, according to Monique Jérôme-Forget

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Question of interest: “A dangerous gesture by Rousseau”, according to Monique Jérôme-Forget

Minister of Finance in the Charest government from April 2007 to April 2009, Monique Jérôme-Forget confided in host Gérald Fillion.

Monique Jérôme-Forget was Quebec's Minister of Finance from April 2007 to April 2009.

Monique Jérôme-Forget became Minister of Finance in the government of Jean Charest on April 18, 2007. Soon, she was confronted with the financial crisis that was taking shape and which would hit the Caisse de depot et placement du Québec hard.

It came like a bombshell for me, the commercial paper announcement, says Monique Jérôme-Forget as part of our special series of the podcast Question of interest , featured this month on the Ohdio app.

Commercial papers are debt securities issued by banking, institutional or commercial companies. These unsecured and relatively risky securities completely collapsed during the financial crisis.

In 2007, the Caisse de depot owned nearly half of the commercial paper in Canada, or 13 billion out of 30. The ultimate culprit is Henri-Paul Rousseau, then CEO of Quebec's wool stockings.

Henri-Paul is a super bright, intelligent guy who has a lot of self-confidence. Right in 99% of cases. But, in this case, it is clear that he had made a dangerous gesture for the Caisse, maintains Monique Jérôme-Forget.

In the skin of Monique Jérôme-Forget

< h3>PODCAST • Question of interestIn the shoes of Monique Jérôme-Forget. 31 minute audio content, Podcast. Listen to the audio.

The collapse of commercial paper, at the heart of the financial crisis, caused the Caisse de dépôt to lose nearly $40 billion in 2008, a negative return of 25% . Henri-Paul Rousseau left office in the spring of 2008, just before the debacle.

The former minister claims to have acted vigorously to preserve the reputation of the Caisse de dépôt, but also that of the National Bank and Desjardins, which also had this type of risky investment.

“I could have blamed Caisse, Nationale and Desjardins. And distance myself. Me, I decided to assume this loss to defend, tooth and nail, three important Quebec institutions for the economy […] I did my duty. I didn't do it for my personal career. I did it to defend the Quebec state. »

— Monique Jérôme-Forget, Minister of Finance of Quebec from 2007 to 2009

In Toronto and Ottawa, we looked at Quebec with a certain haughtiness. I don't know if it was contempt. In any case, I took him as being haughty in the face of a situation that was dramatic for Quebec. I remember very well that Mark Carney [governor of the Bank of Canada at the time, Editor's note] said to me: "What is happening in Quebec?", she remembers.

I said, “Mr. Carney, you get paid to do a job. You are not responsible and I am not responsible, but I do my job. So do your job!" He never got over it, he told me, that someone spoke to him in that tone. That was a bit arrogant of me!

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Four former Quebec finance ministers confided to Gérald Fillion: Raymond Bachand, Monique Jérôme-Forget, Carlos Leitao and Nicolas Marceau.

Listen to our interviews in the special series In the shoes of the Minister of Finance as part of Radio-Canada's economic podcast, Question d'intérieur.

The series allows us to better understand behind the scenes of events that have marked Quebec for 15 years. A few revelations, confidences and, above all, the conviction of having done things well.

Monique Jérôme-Forget is our first guest on January 12.

Raymond Bachand will follow on January 19, Nicolas Marceau on January 26, and Carlos Leitao on February 2.

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