Success is not a sin Text signed by Michel Leblanc, President and CEO of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal.

Text signed by Michel Leblanc, President and CEO of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, and published in Le Devoir and La Presse.

August 21, 2009

Success is not a sin

Alain Simard has devoted his entire career to building Montréal's cultural reputation and influence. His achievements make for a remarkable success story. Yet, most surprisingly, he has recently come under public attack, in sometimes vitriolic terms.

Do we treat our champions with all due consideration and acknowledgment?

I am not referring to respect or politeness, but to the occasionally troubled and ambiguous relationship that we Quebecers have with the concept of success. To my mind, this is a fundamental issue: can we not accept, with serenity, that it is OK for one of our own to succeed? Do we not fully realize that such success is, in many ways, contagious?

And yet, the facts are indisputable: Montréal and Quebec as a whole desperately need their champions—present and future. Our leaders, when they emerge, stand out and shine, are like locomotives, pulling with them a host of other players from the cultural and economic spheres.

Through the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, the FrancoFolies and the Montreal High Lights Festival, Alain Simard and Équipe Spectra, the company he founded, have not only created wealth and jobs; they have also helped produce a fertile cultural ground, rich in innovation, knowledge and know-how, from which the champions of tomorrow are emerging and prospering.

Societies that succeed have one thing in common: they can rely on outstanding individuals to forge achievements out of an idea, a mere dream. Of course, there are cases in which Quebecers feel pride, without guilt, in the international successes of many of our champions: consider Bombardier, Cascades or Cirque du Soleil. This feeling of collective pride is essential to our capacity to succeed and prosper down the road.

Such acknowledgment, precisely because it is so valuable, would be even more beneficial if it were directed equally toward all those who deserve it. Clearly, Alain Simard is among them.

A society that succeeds must rest on solid foundations, and it needs its champions to build on top of those foundations. We must steer clear of the trap that transforms achievement into a source of mistrust. It is high time we stopped disguising our successes as defeats.

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