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The Globe and Mail

Why Pierre Juneau was a Canadian musical hero

Pierre Juneau and former Globe rock writer Ritchie Yorke in 1972.

Pierre Juneau was without question one of the most informed, intuitive and compassionate Canadians that I had the pleasure of encountering in 20 years of living in Maple music country.

It still astonishes me that a French Canadian would have so much empathy for the emerging English-Canadian culture. And that he would possess the vision to kick-start through legislative action (i.e. radio Cancon laws) what has become such a booming and bountiful aspect of contemporary Canadian culture.

Canadian music now reigns supreme, as this latest selection of Juno Awards will undoubtedly demonstrate.

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But I fear Canadian musicians and composers would be still waiting for music-industry support had there been no legally imposed Canadian quota in broadcasting.

If it hadn't been for Juneau's CRTC intervention, most of our current stars would continue to be tooling off to California looking for a living as Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and John Kay of Steppenwolf had done before them. It was Canada's white brick road.

Pierre Juneau provided the essential chance for young creative Canadians to stay in their homeland, maintain their family lives and ply their trade.

The Juno Awards, fittingly named after Pierre Juneau aligned with the ancient Roman goddess Juno, the protector and special counsellor of the state, serve to remind us each year of the power and providence of Canada's homegrown music.

Pierre Juneau, then chairman of the Canadian Radio-Television Commission , wrote the introduction to Ritchie Yorke's book Axes, Chops & Hot Licks – The Canadian Rock Music Scene (Hurtig Publishers, 1971), which detailed the growth of the Maple music industry.

Ritchie Yorke, The Globe and Mail's first full-time rock-music writer in 1968-69, was a strong early supporter of Cancon laws and a confidante of Pierre Juneau and other key Canadian music icons. He returned to his homeland of Australia in 1986.

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