Mtre Philippe Roy

The parallel careers of Mtre Philippe Roy

By Pierre-Luc Beauchesne, lawyer
(Article published on October 22, 2019)

Mtre Philippe Roy has two full-time jobs. Not only is he Mayor of the Town of Mount Royal, but he is also a Vice-President at PEAK Financial Group, where he advises the Chief Executive Officer on communications, media relations and government relations. In spite of this unusual combination, Mtre Roy defines himself first and foremost as a lawyer, particularly because his professional experience, in both municipal politics and public relations, has frequently placed him right in the middle of drafting statutes and regulations.

The father of three boys, currently 14, 16 and 18, Mtre Roy has an interesting background. After a short foray into the Canadian Armed Forces, he decided to enter the Faculty of Law at Université de Montréal with the firm intention of becoming a lawyer and practising law. After being called to the Bar and the federal election of 1993, he became parliamentary assistant to Bloc Québécois MP Pauline Picard until 1996. This first experience of political life set the tone for a career that has been far from the usual practice of law.

While completing a certificate in public relations at McGill University, Mtre Roy held the position of Director of Communications at Montreal’s police brotherhood, the Fraternité des policiers et policières de Montréal, for three years. In 1999, he joined NATIONAL Public Relations Inc., where he advised businesses on public and government relations. From 2002 to 2003, he was press attaché to the Mayor of Montreal before joining the Autorité des marchés financiers as spokesman and director of media relations until 2008. Mtre Roy then returned to the private sector, working at Ryan Public Affairs, a firm of lobbyists, from 2008 to 2018.

Since 2019, Mtre Roy has managed administrative aspects and issues related to assignments under the responsibility of the President of PEAK Financial Group, an investment and fund management company headquartered in Montreal. Throughout his career in public and government relations, he has constantly drawn on his background in law because of the many legal aspects related to being a lobbyist or a director of communications. Mtre Roy points out, however, that not many lawyers are present in these areas, even though they are the best equipped and best trained to be involved in government relations.

While pursuing his public relations career, Mtre Roy made the leap to municipal politics and was elected councillor for the Town of Mount Royal in 2005 and 2009, before becoming acting mayor in 2010, after Mayor Vera Danyluk left for health reasons. He was then elected mayor in 2010, 2013 and 2017, each time by acclamation. Even if becoming mayor took him a little by surprise, and he had never imagined working in municipal politics, Mtre Roy has always felt drawn to community involvement: “In municipal politics, you are continually in symbiosis with citizens. You are constantly in the front line with people who bombard you with questions, whether at municipal council meetings, or walking down the street or doing your groceries.”

There is no doubt that experience in public and government relations is an asset for an elected municipal official: “Often I was the one who proposed a communication strategy and implemented it. However, at town hall, there are often difficult decisions to be made and it is important to be surrounded by good people and to work together as a team.” For Mtre Roy, an elected official’s role has evolved significantly over the years, while municipalities have become real creators of living environments.

The parallel careers of Mtre Roy have one thing in common, however, as they are related to law and the practice of law: “At the Faculty of Law, you study how legislation is drafted, how it is applied and how it is challenged before a judge. Throughout my career and the various professional experiences that I have had, both in public relations and at town hall, I have always been at the heart of the legislative creation process and the development of laws and regulations. In municipal politics, we often have to start with an idea and make a rule of law out of it that will impact the lives of thousands of people. That is why I have always considered myself a lawyer first and foremost and I have never felt that I had totally left the practice of law.” For Mtre Roy, regardless of the area in which a lawyer practises, he or she has more than ever an important and meaningful role to play. In a world that is in a state of flux, a lawyer’s job is to ensure that orderly transformations are made.

Mtre Roy never had a preordained career path but found his own path, or rather several paths, building on each opportunity he encountered. However, most of all, Mtre Philippe Roy’s professional track record  encourages us to get involved in our community and to stay in touch with what is happening around us.