#146: Terrasses de la Bullshit

Robert Campeau scammed Canada with what looks like the brick-laden poops that Godzilla must get after consuming so many hipsters living in brownstone apartments.

Look at this fucking thing. If the Soviets ever threatened North America with nuclear war I would beg them to have mercy and just bomb this godforsaken architectural shart off the face of the Earth. It’s home to AANDC, so frankly the Soviets would be doing a lot of favors to a lot of people. But I digress.

Robert Campeau is, to be frank, a Canadian aristocrat with several megatons of coin. I mean, look at this fucking house. Anyways, he’s a fraud and a caker businessman, and apologies for the redundancy. Campeau’s rags-to-riches story starts with him frauding his way into an apprenticeship; skill, magic, and a healthy dose of bullshit got him into the Ottawa construction game during the 1970s. Remember this as I tell you of a seemingly unrelated story.

Pierre Trudeau was concerned intellectually and practically with the relationship between Canada and Quebec. In his way, he decided during the 1970s to start developing federal government buildings in Gatineau, which is just across the river from Ottawa. Now, Gatineau wasn’t a unified district or indeed even a single…thing. This is the list of stuff that became modern Gatineau, just so you know what we’re dealing with here. Yes, it’s in French. Yes, you can go fuck yourself and learn another language, doofus.

Aaaanyways, Pierre decided that a huge pile of government buildings needed to go in that pile of villages to foster relations between Quebec and Canada (or, if you’re Pierre Vallieres et al, it’s a colonialist usurpation of territory – up to you). Sadly, this pile of villages and shit hadn’t even had the foresight to become the boring, squalid squatlings of office buildings that it is today*, so Pierre needed someone to go and build a bunch of shit. But who? Who was in the business of building big, shitty buildings quickly? Campeau was already bitching about by-laws demanding that no building be bigger than the Peace Tower, so the guy knew big and he knew hideous. Then he got to know the Liberals.

Tragically for the future of Gatineau, Robert Campeau happened to know a few people. Like this guy. And this guy. And he was smart enough to get Pierre Trudeau a fuckton of popcorn, which is if nothing else a unique form of lobbying. So the $160 million dollar bid for Campeau’s Godzilla-turd of a building was accepted without competition or question. But because Pierre Trudeau is Literally Jesus in the caker conception of Canada the story of this squalid piece of shit goes unregarded and people live with a gorgeous, hilly terrain mired by patronage.

Oh, and did I mention AANDC, the Greatest Swindle of Them All, lurks in this thing? Like a maggot in shit. This is a small part of the reason why lionizing leaders is rarely a good idea, especially when they’re the ones bringing your Constitution home. Oh, and Campeau? He’s hiding in Germany after going bankrupt from the debt he bought by purchasing even more real estate. He tried to hide his assets by giving them to his wife, but…you know what? Let’s just give the final punch of this episode of Shit About Canada to the Yankees:

“Any corporate executive can figure out how to file for bankruptcy when the bottom drops out of the business. It took the special genius of Robert Campeau, chairman of the Campeau Corporation, to figure out how to bankrupt more than 250 profitable department stores. The dramatic jolt to Bloomingdale’s, Abraham & Straus, Jordan Marsh and the other proud stores reflects his overreaching grasp and oversized ego”

*I kind of like being in Gatineau, all told. I prefer it to Ottawa, to be sure.

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