Occupation: Consumer advocate/activist/publicist
Bio: This South Shore heartbreaker had been working as a marketing specialist for the Montreal Alouettes, when, approximately 10 years ago, he was approached by a local publisher to work his media magic on a book about the Dionne quintuplets. Meeting the surviving Dionne sisters and having his heart promptly broken after learning the truth about their sad, sad tale, he decided to abandon his work in the corporate milieu and devote himself entirely to seeking justice for those fucked over by “the system” and without resources to fend for themselves. He drives a 1999 Volkswagen Jetta.
The Dionne saga in a nutshell: Good poverty-stricken Franco-Ontarian Catholic gives birth to quintuplets way back when in the 1930s. The Ontario government takes them from their parents and turns them into a freakshow roadside attraction, bringing mucho tourist dollars to northern Ontario and into government coffers but not so much into la famille Dionne. Lots of well-documented exploitation ensues, with the understanding that the Ontario government would set up the quintuplets for life financially. But no go. “I thought the surviving quintuplets would be living it up in Palm Springs, but they were all living together under the same leaky roof – all of them sick and surviving on $750 a month between them.”
What he did to help the freaks: Used his media smarts to publicize their plight, eventually getting the U.S. television networks, Time, Newsweek and the wire services onto the story. “At first nobody wanted to touch it, but with time the Dionnes went from being a pimple on Mike Harris’s ass to a pimple on his face.” Largely due to Carlo’s efforts, the sisters were eventually compensated to the tune of $4-million, some of which ended up in Carlo’s saving account.
A few other causes he has championed: The Duplessis Orphans, Taxpayer Action Movement, Claude Mailhot.
What the hey is a Claude Mailhot? A former Caisse Desjardins customer who is now paralyzed after getting blasted by a bank robber because the teller followed the Caisse’s unorthodox policy of non-collaboration with bank thieves.
What he does if his clients have no compelling media hook to their story: He creates one by organizing protests, demonstrations or showing up and presenting his case at shareholder meetings. “Even if the powers don’t want to hear about it, they have no choice once you’ve created a media event that ends up on the tube or in the papers. It forces them to comment on it.”
One person he greatly admires: Ralph Nader.
One board game in which he remains undefeated: Trivial Pursuit.
Is that because he only plays against mentally handicapped children? No.
Where you might find him boozing: Publix.
Favourite alcoholic beverage: Molson Ex.
Last book read: Stupid White Men, by Michael Moore.
Favourite film of all time: Erin Brockovich.
Musical preferences: Dylan, Beatles, Renaud.
Childhood ambition: To become a superhero.
Words of wisdom: “Anyone who thinks they are too small to make a difference has never been in bed with a mosquito.”
Originally published in the Montreal Mirror (2003)