|Born||April 24, 1954|
|Genre||Non-fiction, creative non-fiction|
|Notable works||French Kiss|
Life and career
Hébert was born in Ottawa, Ontario. She is the eldest of five children. In 1966 her family moved to Toronto where the 12-year-old was enrolled in École secondaire catholique Monseigneur-de-Charbonnel. She then attended Ontario's first francophone high school, École secondaire Étienne-Brûlé. After high school, Hébert obtained a B.A. degree in 1976 in political science from the bilingual Glendon College of York University. She is a Senior Fellow of Massey College at the University of Toronto and also received the 2006 "Hyman Soloman Award for Excellence in Public Policy Journalism".
Hébert began her media career in 1975 at the regional television and radio newsroom of the French language Radio-Canada facility in Toronto. She eventually became their reporter covering provincial politics at Queen's Park. After Radio-Canada appointed Hébert to cover federal politics on Parliament Hill, she worked as bureau chief for Montreal's Le Devoir and La Presse. She has written columns appearing in The London Free Press, the Ottawa Citizen and the National Post, and currently in Le Devoir and the Toronto Star.
The "Lobster Pot" story
|This section's factual accuracy is disputed. (March 2012)|
In 1995, Hébert broke the story in La Presse that the 1995 Quebec referendum question's guarantee of an offer of partnership with the rest of Canada before declaring sovereignty following a "Yes" vote was a sham. Hébert wrote that in a June 13 meeting with fifteen foreign diplomats, Quebec Premier Jacques Parizeau had stated that what mattered most was to get a majority vote from Quebec citizens for the proposal to secede from Canada because with that, Quebecers would be trapped "like lobsters thrown in boiling water" (in French: "comme des homards dans l'eau bouillante").
At the time, Parizeau was in France and in his place Quebec's deputy premier, Bernard Landry, who was not present at the meeting, declared categorically that the report was false. However, Hébert confirmed her sources, stating that the information had been given to Foreign Affairs Canada in an official briefing by Jan Fietelaars, the Ambassador from the Netherlands who had been a participant at the meeting. In addition, Hébert had backed up the claim by having it confirmed by three others: Ambassador Christian Fellens of Belgium, who was also present at the meeting, and two other diplomatic attendees who spoke off the record.
Currently, Hébert is a national affairs writer with the Toronto Star as well as a guest columnist for Le Devoir and L'actualite. She frequently appears on CBC Television's The National as a member of the "At Issue" political panel and is a regular participant in various other French- and English-language television and radio current affairs programs.
Hébert received the 2005 Public Service Citation of the Association of Professional Executives of the Public Service of Canada (APEX). In February 2006, the Public Policy Forum voted her the Hyman Solomon Award for Excellence in Public Policy Journalism. She delivered the Michener Lecture at Queen's University in 2008. She was awarded an honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree from Bishop's University in May 2009. In 2012, she was named an officer of the Order of Canada.
In June 2006, Hébert took two months' leave of absence from the Toronto Star to write her first book, French Kiss: Stephen Harper’s Blind Date with Quebec (Knopf Canada, February 2007, ISBN 978-0-676-97907-7). French Kiss received shortlist honours for the 2008 "Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction". She also took leave to mourn the death of her father, who died in May 2007. Her mother died in the summer of 2002.
In September 2014, her second book was released, The Morning After: The 1995 Quebec Referendum and the Day that Almost Was (in French, Confessions post-référendaires: Les acteurs politiques de 1995 et le scénario d'un oui). The book, cowritten with Jean Lapierre, was a shortlisted nominee for the 2015 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing.