WHATEVER HAPPENS on Quebec’s noisy political battleground in 1959, the newcomer who’ll make the loudest rumble will be a newspaperman named Jean Louis Gagnon. In three months as the new editorial boss of Montreal's big. rich but pussy-footed La Presse, Gagnon has turned the tabby into a tiger that has already:
Raked Premier Maurice Duplessis and his cabinet for sluggish industrialdevelopment policies in some field and give-aways in others.
^ Blasted everybody who opposes metropolitan government for Montreal and flailed city council for laggard snow-removal methods.
Along with alarmed politicians of every stripe, the quarter-million readers of La Presse are scanning each edition for fresh signs that French Canada finally has a big paper that won't back down from a scrap. (Up till now, only Montreal’s crusading Le Devoir has
been outspoken in its municipal and provincial political coverage.) “We have,” says Gagnon, “no party. We’ll deal with issues. If our stand means fighting Premier Duplessis—or anybody else—we’ll fight.”
To add teeth to his tiger Gagnon has hired “eleven of Quebec's best young newspapermen,” opened three of seven planned news bureaus around the province, and recruited Robert La Palme. Quebec’s most scathing political cartoonist (who drew the accompanying caricatures) away from Le Devoir. Gagnon predicts: “We ll be putting out a real national newspaper — the first French Canada has seen for a long time.
With La Presse remade to Gagnon's battleplan. the 45-year-old former boywonder of French-Canadian journalism (editor-in-chief of Quebec’s I'Evenement Journal at 25) could easily become the most powerful political figure in Quebec outside the LEGISLATURE.-KEN LEFOLII
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