Paul Lefebvre was elected Sudbury MP Oct. 20, 2015.
Lyne Giroux and Paul A. Lefebvre are the new generation of movers and shakers in Sudbury.
This article is the cover story in the Summer 2010 issue.
Lyne Giroux and her husband Paul A. Lefebvre, have credentials that suggest a high-profile power couple. But after meeting them, I put that idea to rest. These two do not fit the stereotype. They look like a northern thirtysomething couple with kids. Which is exactly what they are.
Lyne (from Sudbury) and Paul (from Kapuskasing) met and married while both were attending the University of Ottawa during the 1990s.
They are both intelligent and attractive. She is a dermatologist and he is a lawyer. They could have had prestigious careers and all the attractions and perks of a sophisticated Ottawa lifestyle. But they shared a Northern Ontario state of mind.
Paul says, “We always said we wanted to come back up north.”
They had two priorities. Lyne, especially, wanted to be close to family. Paul wanted a Northern Ontario lifestyle. While they were still in Ottawa, they bought a tiny old house with three acres of land on Ramsey Lake. They rented out the house and spent the next two years designing the new home they would build on the site. They moved here in December 2004.
Their Ottawa friends cried, “WHY would you move to Sudbury?” Paul retorted, “Why NOT?”
In Sudbury, he says, it is possible to enjoy an active, outdoor, family-oriented life while working and living in the very heart of a vibrant city. From South Bay Rd., it’s just five minutes to her clinic, 10 minutes to his law office, five minutes from day care, five minutes from cross country trails-30 seconds from the lake.
When I arrive at their home, Lyne is still upstairs, putting the children to bed. No nanny. They have three children, Paul tells me, two boys and a girl. The upper hallway is open-the kids can look over the railings to see what their parents are up to down below. It’s a big, sprawling, comfortable house, airy and full of light. It has a cathedral ceiling, a big stone fireplace, and an open-concept kitchen with room for a small crowd to gather around and kibbitz while one or even two cooks do their stuff. The table in the adjacent dining area looks big enough to seat 12 or 14. A wonderful house for parties, I think to myself.
Right on cue Paul says, “The house is always full of people, coming and going. We like giving parties, having friends and family in.”
And there are plenty of both - especially family. Lyne’s parents, Roseanne and Roger Giroux, come from large traditional blue-collar families-she has 30 or 40 cousins on either side.
Lyne joins us and we sit down at the big dining room table. I want to know more about them. Lyne begins. “When I first met Paul, he was a carefree long-haired music student and I was a serious, dedicated biochemistry student. But we were both from the north, had similar family values, and we both had a passion for sports, music, and travelling. We complemented each other. I lightened up and he got more serious.”
As for Paul, when he discovered Lyne loved ice fishing and could keep up with him on the snowmobile, he knew she was the one. “How can you not be attracted?” he asks.
When she opened her practice in 2005, Dr. Lyne Giroux was the first full-time dermatologist Sudbury had seen in 10 years. Her main focus is general, medical, and surgical dermatology. At her clinic, she also has a phototherapy centre for the treatment of psoriasis (an OHIP-covered treatment, not previously available in Sudbury) and a laser centre, offering procedures that are considered cosmetic and not covered by OHIP.
People with health problems “shouldn’t have to go to another city to be treated,” she says.
Paul completed his music degree, and then entered law school in Ottawa. He received his master’s in law from Waterloo. He is currently an associate at Weaver-Simmons, specializing in tax and corporate commercial law.
At 35, he seems more assured and confident than most men just leaving their youth behind. Sparkplug, organizer, idea man, he’s active with any number of community organizations. He even finds time to serve on the Human Rights Commission, the only member from Northern Ontario.
His energy seems boundless. When the Sudbury Community Foundation issued a report calling attention to a lack of artistic events in the city, it was decided that the Foundation itself should organize an annual musical event. A lover of jazz and a musician himself (he plays alto sax, piano, guitar, and fiddle), Paul was heavily involved in that project. Out of it came the first annual Sudbury Jazz Festival.
“And then we bought the radio station,” Lyne reminds him. Oh yes. Paul was disappointed with the quality of programming on the local private French-language radio station, 98.9 on the FM dial. The anglophone owner was basically disinterested in the property, and Paul made an offer. The deal included satellite stations in Timmins, Hearst, Kapuskasing, and Chapleau. He has hired more staff and established a music policy that more faithfully reflects the tastes of francophone adults in Northern Ontario.
Between being a full-time doctor and a dedicated mom, Lyne doesn’t have time to take part in Paul’s projects, but mentally and emotionally she’s fully involved with all of them.
“He bought the radio station but I live it every day.”
Now Paul’s involved in the second annual Sudbury Jazz Festival to be held this year at Science North, Sept. 10-11-12.
They both feel strongly about giving back to the community. Lyne, 37, says she wouldn’t be practising dermatology today if she hadn’t been fortunate enough to be one of the first recipients of a postgraduate scholarship from the Sudbury-based Alma and Baxter Ricard Foundation.
“I was brought up to believe,” she says, “if you have been given a lot, then a lot is going to be expected of you.”
Paul adds,”That’s what we live by.” He sees a need and wants to help-she backs him up. It’s one way of giving back.
How in the world do either of them find time for their children? That’s never been a question. They just do it. “We’re dedicated parents because we had dedicated parents,” says Lyne.
She is always home by six. Paul leaves work early three or four days a week to pick up eight-year-old Mylène at school and drive her to hockey practice (she plays for the junior Lady Wolves).
Lyne handles daycare drop-offs and pick-ups. If the schedule goes awry, her father or mother step into the breech. “My parents help out a LOT with the kids.”
Sometimes, she admits, it’s a real balancing act. “You do your best and take one day at a time.” Scheduling is always tight, Paul says. “We have to plan our week, no doubt about that. But we’re used to being busy and we don’t want the kids to miss out on anything. We don’t want to close any doors.”
Weekends are family times. In summer, they play tennis, go bicycling, swim, and water ski (living at the lake was always Lyne’s childhood dream). In winter, they make a rink on the ice and play hockey together. The whole family skis. Even baby,Theo, not yet 3, is learning. Five-year-old Henri picked up cross country easily and this winter he started doing downhill. In February, Lyne and Paul took Mylène and Henri for three days of skiing in Kelowna, B.C. and then on to three days at the Vancouver Olympics. “The atmosphere was electric, unbelievable,” Lyne says. “We were so glad for our kids to see that.”
At their workplaces, Lyne and Paul are each in charge of their own turf. It’s different at home. “Lyne is the boss at her work and I’m the boss where I am, and we come home and there are two bosses.” For a power couple, this might create unresolvable conflict but Lyne and Paul make it work by always operating as a team (tag team, says Paul), sharing parental chores, supporting, encouraging, boosting each other. Both say they are each other’s best friend. She lists the strengths they bring to their marriage as “trust, commitment, mutual respect”. His list says, “We laugh a lot and we have fun together.”
Lyne smiles her agreement. “It’s true, we’ve had a lot of fun along the way. And who knows what will be next? I’m never bored with Paul around, and I’m always game for an adventure.”
Benita Hart is a Sudbury writer. She had a long career as a broadcaster with CBC Radio and is enjoying retirement.