Tributes paid to businessman Paul Desmarais, dead at 86

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Reaction from political and business leaders to the death of Paul Desmarais Sr.:

Gov.-Gen. David Johnston:

"It's tragic. What a remarkable Canadian," said Johnston who also grew up in Sudbury, Ont.

Desmarais was "not only a great Canadian business leader, but a great leader of Canadian values."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper:

"Mr. Desmarais will be remembered as a unique business leader who improved the lives of Canadians through the creation of jobs and through charitable endeavours."

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau:

"He was a good friend of my father. He was a very strong Quebec, and Canadian, businessman. A proud Sudburian. And someone who will be missed in the sphere of Canadian business."

Former prime minister Jean Chretien:

"A lot of people listened when Paul Desmarais said something, so of course he was powerful, but he was powerful in the open."

"It's a big, big loss for the family and a big, big loss for the country too. He was a very proud Canadian."

Former prime minister Brian Mulroney:

"Do I know of anybody comparable in my lifetime and the answer is no."

"I think his greatest legacy is not the vast fortune he built and gave away, for the vast fortune he retained and reinvested, it is the fact that he serves as an example for all young French-Canadians."

Former prime minister Paul Martin:

"The Quiet Revolution was a revolution that existed in many, many facets but certainly one of them was the ability for Quebecers, for Acadians, for Franco-Ontarians and for French-Canadians right across the country to succeed and Paul Desmarais was the living symbol of that."

Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair:

"Paul Desmarais was a giant of the financial industry in Canada in addition to being a philanthropist. Franco-Ontarians can be proud because again we saw someone in Canada who excelled in business."

Quebec Premier Pauline Marois:

"Quebec has lost a great builder. The remarkable success of Paul G. Desmarais and his many qualities made him a recognized and highly respected businessman throughout the world. His memory will forever be associated with one of the finest personal successes of our time."

Quebecor vice-chairman Pierre Karl Peladeau:

"I salute the memory of this man of character, whose determination built one of Canada's few multinational corporations. Mr. Desmarais was also a great philanthropist who gave generously to major Quebec institutions."

Bloc Quebecois Leader Daniel Paille:

"What he has bequeathed goes beyond economics. In Quebec, when socio-economic divisions depended on the language spoken, he showed that the highest peaks were also within reach of a francophone."

The Montreal Board of Trade:

"The business community of the city is today mourning a great Montrealer."

Bombardier chairman Laurent Beaudoin:

"He took advantage of opportunities when they were there. People like that are not on every street corner."

Charles Bronfman:

"He took a small company and made it into an empire. Before many, Paul invested in Europe and China."

Alimentation Couche-Tard CEO Alain Bouchard:

"Canada has lost a great entrepreneur who chose to settle in Quebec, despite the adversity and sometimes the reticence of Quebecers towards success and wealth in general."

Organizations: Quebecor, Bloc Quebecois, Montreal Board of Trade Bombardier Alimentation Couche-Tard

Geographic location: Quebec, Canada, Sudbury Europe China

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