Former Liberal Minister of Finance and Justice Edmond Blanchard was brought to his final resting place Monday morning at his home village of Atholville.
Nearly 400 people crowded inside the church of Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes in Atholville to pay tribute to the former restigouchois politician. He represented the riding of Campbellton from 1987 to 1999 as a Liberal. In the early 2000s, he returned to law practice, [later] becoming a member of the Federal Court and Chief Justice of the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada.
He died on June 27 in Ottawa following a brief but virulent disease (cancer). He had just celebrated his 60th birthday.
In the crowd, one could see many colleagues of the deceased when he was a deputy minister in the Legislative Assembly, including the most recent three Liberal premiers - Frank McKenna, Camille Thériault and Shawn Graham - and the aspirant in the September elections, Brian Gallant.
Several colleagues from the judiciary also attended the ceremony for the former judge. The Campbellton Courthouse adjourned in the morning to allow staff to attend the ceremony. Mr. Blanchard practiced law in Restigouche for a while before taking the plunge into politics.
"Edmond was a very sensitive and very smart, wise man. He was concerned about the economy of the region and the northern New Brunswick. He was a key contributor to our Board, "recalls former Premier Frank McKenna, in which Mr. Blanchard was notably Minister of Justice and Finance.
Another former prime minister, Camille Thériault, remembers his former colleague with great admiration:
"Edmond was a really special person, someone who was committed to his province, his community. This is one of the most honest I've had the chance to meet during my stay in politics people. He thought greatly before making its decisions, always taking care to think about the consequences they would have on the people of his region and the less fortunate," says Theriault.
A longtime friend and former chief of staff to Mr. Blanchard, the mayor of Atholville, Michel Soucy, struggled to hold back tears during the funeral ceremony.
"This is much more than a boss that I lost, but also a very good friend," said he said.
Praise also came from the judiciary, Mr. Blanchard's other major career.
"We lost a member of our family. While we were preparing for a while at worst, death is still very painful," said the Chief Justice of the Federal Court, Paul Crampton, who made the journey to the Restigouche to pay tribute to his colleague.
He described Mr. Blanchard as a role model for young lawyers and judges, as well as an outstanding ambassador to the Court for all of Canada.
"He sacrificed a lot of time to his community, his people and his country, even to the detriment of his health. Edmond deserves its place among the best lawyers who have practiced in the country, "he added, lamenting the premature departure of his colleague.