January 1, 2013 By Nancy Colagiacomo
599 words – MR
HEAD: Claude Poirier respected by all
by Nancy Colagiacomo
Ask any Québec police officer who the true negotiator is and they will respond, without hesitation, Claude Poirier. Journalist, commentator, negotiator, expert witness – he’s done it all and his flame shows no sign of dying out, even after 50 years in the limelight.
Well spoken, distinguished, articulate and poised he is not. Throw out everything taught in journalism school. Poirier does everything an investigative reporter should not do but is still successful. His calling is crime reporting and his abrupt responses and traditional 10-4 sign off are synonymous with his style.
Poirier is probably the only investigative reporter capable of getting unwilling and unprepared political public figures and police directors out of bed in the wee hours of the morning for a live interview. When he calls – and more often than not, he personally makes the call – he gets answers. Some fear him, others dodge his call but most are somewhat intimidated by his notoriety, outspokenness, credibility and astounding ratings.
Born in 1938 and raised in Montreal, his career began unexpectedly in 1960. While working as a salesman for his father he witnessed a bank robbery gone bad. One suspect was shot and the other escaped. Poirier ran to a nearby phone booth, called a local radio station and gave a live description of the events he had just seen. He then convinced the station to allow him to work as a reporter, free, for the next six months and the rest is history.
Over his five decade career, this impassioned crime reporter has gained the trust of police, the public and especially hardened criminals. He has covered the most outstanding events in Quebec’s judicial history. Early on wanted criminals sought his help to negotiate their surrender. To date he has helped police arrest 175 criminals, the majority suspected of murder and actively participated in the release of several hostages.
Poirier was present in 1970 when Pierre Laporte’s body was discovered in a car trunk in 1970 after his kidnapping by the FLQ during the October crisis. When several people were taken hostage at a criminal institute in Montreal in 1973, Poirier offered to take their place. The suspect agreed and Poirier was held with a knife to his throat for several hours before he surrendered.
The Quebec government has honoured Poirier five times during his career for his courage and the federal government presented him with the Medal of Bravery in 1977.
Poirier has covered events such as the Kennedy and King assassinations, has visited the headquarters of the CIA, Interpol and Scotland Yard and his work has taken him to many penitentiaries.
This living legend and modern hero has acquired many loyal followers over five decades but like any public figure, he hasn’t been without controversy. More than 600 people joined a Facebook group for those “Fed up with Claude Poirier”
His reputation for listening and getting to the truth has made him an icon with young and old alike in Quebec. At age 74 he is still going strong and his passion is undiminished. Analyst, commentator on five daily television and radio shows, the subject of a television biography and a soon to be aired miniseries, he shows no sign of retiring.
He receives on average 200 voice mail messages daily from listeners wanting to report an incident or voice their opinion on a judicial matter and still does his own morning round up calls to police at 4 am for the days’ scoop.
Love him or hate him, everyone respects Claude Poirier. 10-4.
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