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Creator of Canadian content dies at 89

A long-time friend of Pierre Trudeau who had the Juno awards named after him after a career spent championing Canadian performers as head of the CRTC and CBC has died.

Pierre Juneau, who was 89, was remembered fondly Tuesday by his successors at the institutions he helped shape.

"We join Canadians in celebrating his legacy as the architect of Canadian content regulations, and the dynamic cultural industry that has since flourished," acting CRTC chairman Leonard Katz said in a statement.

CBC President Hubert Lacroix paid tribute to his predecessor's public battles with then-prime minister Brian Mulroney over cuts to the public broadcaster's budget.

"Pierre Juneau was a passionate defender of public broadcasting and a fervent promoter of Canadian content," said Lacroix, who is also facing looming cuts from the current Conservative government to the CBC's budget. "He was instrumental to shaping policy that allowed Canadians to build their own industry and their own content. We still feel his influence today."

Juneau's long career fighting for Canadian musicians, actors and artists began when he joined the National Film Board in 1949 eventually moving up to become head of French content.

"Under his stewardship, French-language filmmaking thrived, affording great filmmakers opportunities for creation and innovation," said Tom Perlmutter, NFB chairman, in a statement.

Trudeau was a freshly elected prime minister in 1968 when he made his old university friend the first president of the newly created Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission.

Juneau mandated minimum standards for Canadian content on radio and television that won him few friends among broadcasters of that era but did win him the instant affection of a burgeoning Canadian scene that included The Guess Who, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and The Band.

The Canadian music industry showed their thanks by naming their national music awards after him in 1971 with a slightly different spelling. Their annual gala became known as the Juno Awards.

Trudeau wanted Juneau in his government and he appointed him Communications Minister in 1975 even though he did not have a seat in the House of Commons. Juneau was forced to leave his post within a few months after losing a by-election.

He went on to become CBC president. In 1987 he spearheaded the creation of CBC's 24-hour English language news channel, Newsworld, now called News Network.

"Mr. Juneau made a considerable contribution to the Canadian media landscape," said Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore in a statement.

Juneau was born in Montreal in 1922, and studied at the Sorbonne and the Catholic University of Paris, where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy.

He received the Order of Canada in 1975 and was elected a member of the Royal Society of Canada.

"He worked to make certain that Canadian artists have a voice in their own country," said Maureen Parker, executive director of the Writers Guild of Canada, in a statement.

"His legacy can be seen and heard daily in Canada's vital and vibrant TV, film and music. He made it possible for Canadians to choose Canadian content in their entertainment."

The Canadian Press


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