His father was an accountant at Alcan, his mother a schoolteacher who taught him Grade 1. While his parents currently reside in Ste Elie de Caxton, near Shawinigan, his elder sister and her family have settled in Mississauga, Ont. He resides in Gatineau, Que.
He attended Loyola High School, a Jesuit Catholic school in Montreal whose alumni list also includes Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. Mr. Blais studied at Loyola during the ‘70s and was an over-achiever, not preoccupied with fitting in.
“My memory of JP is of a serious, focused and driven individual who was quite confident and sure of himself. He certainly was not a class clown or a ‘jock,’ ” said former schoolmate Steve Dunlop in an e-mail. “I am not surprised to see him now as chairman of the CRTC, nor would I believe he would be intimidated at finding himself at the ‘centre of the storm,’ as it were.”
And Mr. Blais did find himself at the centre of a major kerfuffle as editor of school yearbook. The long-standing tradition was that each graduate’s photo was accompanied by comments, notably bon mots about student antics. The principal, however, decided to censor the comments and the yearbook was eventually printed without any of them, causing an uproar.
“None of us were aware that the comments had been removed until we received the yearbooks,” Mr. Dunlop said. “The student body was never consulted on the matter, so [Blais] got a lot of heat.”
Mr. Blais, though, did provide the comments for his class’s 25th reunion after hanging on to the original documents for all those years.
“From what I know and remember about JP, he has not changed too much – he comes from the school of the well-prepared: he does his homework, is most articulate and is a proficient communicator,” said Charles Grenier, another Loyola schoolmate.
When asked if he is worried that he has set an expectation that ordinary Canadians’ concerns will be reflected in all the CRTC’s decisions, Mr. Blais acknowledges the threshold is high.
“I think you have to have the courage of ambition and the courage to set high goals. I’m not saying that I’ll always be able to do it. But if you aim for bronze that is probably what you’ll get.”