Lise Thibault (née Trudel), broadcaster, educator, lieutenant-governor of Québec 1997–2007 (born 2 April 1939 in Saint- Roch-de-l'Achigan, QC). After a career in education, broadcasting and community work, Thibault became the first woman lieutenant-governor of Québec in 1997. In 2014, she pled guilty to fraud and breach of trust for claiming personal expenses during her tenure as lieutenant-governor; she was sentenced to prison in September 2015 and was ordered to repay $300,000.
Personal Life and Education
Lise Thibault was born to Paul Trudel and Laurenza Wolfe in Saint- Roch-de-l'Achigan, Québec, and received her early education at boarding schools, including l’Académie Marie-Anne in Montréal. During her youth, Thibault was seriously injured in a tobogganing accident that fractured her spine; the resulting disability eventually confined her to a wheelchair.
Thibault trained as a teacher at the École normale de Saint-Jérôme. On 21 November 1959, she married René Thibault, with whom she had two children.
Career and Community Involvement
As a mother, Lise Thibault became involved in school committees, serving as secretary and chair of a number of school councils from 1964 to 1972. She then taught adult education in the Milles-Îles and Des Écores school boards (1973–78). At around the same time, she helped found the newspaper La Chaîne (1972) and served as the editor of the Journal des femmes d’aujourd’hui. Later, she became a television host and researcher for social and family oriented programs on the Télé-Métropole (1977–81) and Radio-Canada (1982–84) networks. Her commitment to society took the form of active involvement in many community, cultural, political and social activities.
Lise Thibault first became involved in public service in 1977 as a member of the Commission de surveillance de la langue d’enseignement, a commission established by the Québec Ministry of Education to oversee the use of the French language in schools (in 1977, Bill 101 made French the official language of the government and courts, as well as the normal language of schools and the workplace).
Thibault served as the provincial chairperson of Canada Day celebrations in 1983–84. From 1987 to 1993 she was vice-president, beneficiary relations at Québec’s Commission de la santé et sécurité au travail (Occupational Health and Safety Commission) and from 1993 to 1995 was president and director general of the Office des personnes handicapées du Québec (Québec Office for People with Disabilities). During the same period, Thibault sat on various boards of directors, including those of the Régie des rentes du Québec (the province’s pension board) and the Canadian Red Cross.
Lieutenant-Governor of Québec
On 30 January 1997, Lise Thibault was sworn in as the 27th lieutenant-governor of Québec; she was the first woman ever to hold this office in Québec. On 7 June 2007 Thibault was succeeded as lieutenant-governor by Pierre Duchesne.
Honours and Awards
Lise Thibault was awarded a Medal from the Édouard Montpetit Foundation of the Faculty of Social, Economic and Political Science at the Université de Montréal as well as an Honorary Doctorate in Law from Concordia University. She also received the degree of Doctor of Civil Law (honoris causa) from Bishop's University. She is a Dame of Justice in the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, and in 2002 she was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal.
In 2009, Thibault was charged with claiming hundreds of thousands of dollars for personal expenses during her tenure as lieutenant-governor of Quebec. The claims in question included family trips, gifts, birthday parties and golf lessons as well as meals and housing already covered by the province. In December 2014, Thibault pled guilty to six charges of fraud and breach of trust. On 30 September 2015, she was sentenced to 18 months in prison and was ordered to repay $200,000 to the federal government and $100,000 to the provincial government.