"How long do you have to live here to be a Quebecer?" wondered the Caisse's new chairman of the board, Robert Tessier, when asked at the press conference about Sabia's background. "He has a passion for Quebec and Montreal, he learned French, can speak and work in that language. We should be happy our society has the maturity to attract and keep people (like him) here." Sabia, who stepped down as head of BCE last summer after six years at the helm, said he had other offers but wanted to stay in Quebec.
"After being here 16 years, and continuing to choose Quebec, to me that's a demonstration of my loyalty and my interest in working in this environment," he said, adding that his selection "is evidence of the fact the Quebec community is open and confident." Tessier said the headhunting firm mandated to prepare a list of candidates had narrowed the search to four names. Two on the list said they weren't interested. Of the two that were, Sabia was the standout, "a "surprising" and "exceptional" candidate who'd guided major corporations through difficult transitions and will give the Caisse the momentum it needs.
"He has all the qualities of a strong leader," Tessier said. "We have to stop the slide and restore upward movement." The Caisse's selection committee endorsed him unanimously and the Quebec government made it official.