Referendum of 1995: a historic moment missed for Quebec, according to Marois

Referendum of 1995: a historic moment missed for Quebec, according to Marois

Pauline Marois criticizes Jacques Parizeau for having abdicated his responsibility as head of the nation by leaving, bitterly, after the 1995 referendum, instead of taking advantage of this balance of power to demand new powers for Quebec. A missed date with history, according to her.

In an autobiography to be published this week, the first and only woman to lead Quebec looks back on her humble origins and the long political career that followed.

The cover of the book to be published this week by Pauline Marois.

At a time when politics was a man's business, Pauline Marois rose through the ranks and collected ministerial functions. She also relates her first job in Jacques Parizeau's office, where women were prohibited from wearing trousers.

While reviewing her accomplishments, the ex-politician avoids settling scores as much as possible.

However, she could not bring herself to pass over in silence the reprehensible behavior of her former leader in the hours which followed the referendum, where the “no” camp narrowly won.

“Nearly 60% of French-speaking Quebecers had said yes! But instead of taking advantage of this remarkable result, Mr. Parizeau seemed to have resigned himself to the debacle. In my mind, his decision to abandon ship is much worse than what he said when he took the stage. He could have reframed his speech and resumed the fight … He chose to give up, ”she laments.

Money and the ethnic vote

Former Prime Minister Jacques Parizeau on the evening of the 1995 referendum.

The annoying statement about money and the ethnic vote had perhaps cooled some, but Pauline Marois was ready to live with the consequences.

“What he said was strictly true, [but] he shouldn't say it,” she slips in an interview.

According to her, Mr. Parizeau has neither more nor less failed in his duty by resigning.

“I will always have a lot of admiration and immense respect for Mr. Parizeau. […] But the head of a nation is condemned to be greater than himself. He cannot put his own life and his own emotions before his people, before his country. It's terrible, but it's the price to pay when we chose to be in politics, when we fought to be elected, and obtained the immense privilege of being responsible for the destiny of a nation. ”

Pauline Marois believes that this is a missed date with history since the government will be for a time destabilized by this shattering departure and the arrival of a new leader.

“That evening, for one of the rare times in our history, the people of Quebec had sufficient assets to force the hand of Canada,” she insists. Since then, sovereignist fervor has continued to decline.

Rivalry with Landry

Pauline Marois briefly discusses her rivalry with Bernard Landry. She remembers in particular a “maneuver” by her colleague minister to distance her from her chief of staff and friend, Nicole Stafford, who had been offered the post of general delegate of Quebec in Brussels.

“I have to say I took it very hard,” she says.

Despite everything, she still believes today that Bernard Landry overestimated his nuisance capacity.

“I felt less in competition with him than he in competition with me,” she told our Parliamentary Bureau.

Values or secularism?

The years in the opposition were not easy, the Parti Quebecois having experienced many heartbreaks. So, when she came to power in 2012, at the head of a minority government, Pauline Marois had plans for Quebec and was in a hurry to achieve them.

This is the case with the famous charter of values, which should rather have been called the charter of secularism. Besides the name, she has no regrets.

“I am quite happy to have presented it because it gave births, I think that Law 21 (adopted by the Legault government and which prohibits the wearing of religious symbols by State employees in a position of authority and teachers), it is somewhat the result of all this process that we have taken. ”

Pauline Marois knew, however, that this project could not progress smoothly.

“I suspected that nothing would be spared us, that we would be called intolerant, fascists, Islamophobes.”

“Too corrupt” for the Champlain Bridge?

As Prime Minister, Pauline Marois recalls a “totally surreal” interview about the Champlain Bridge with her federal counterpart at the time, Stephen Harper. The Prime Minister of Canada considered that Quebec was “too corrupt” to manage the construction of a bridge, she recalls. The Conservative even asked him why Canadians would pay for the bridge of a province that wants to separate from the country. “I replied: 'Well, because, until further notice, Quebeckers pay taxes in Ottawa'.”

“Demoted” to Education, Marois in tears

Minister of Finance under the leadership of Jacques Parizeau, Pauline Marois welcomes her appointment to Education by her new leader, Lucien Bouchard, as a “demotion”. “I cried like a Madeleine”, she confides in her book. In an interview, the ex-politician recounts how proud she was of her function as the government's big money. “It's very prestigious!” With hindsight, however, it is the Ministry of Education that she preferred to lead, where she will notably pilot the major reform of the education system.

The “boys club”

Pauline Marois with her husband, Claude Blanchet, and three of her children, Félix, François-Christophe and Catherine, in 1983.

Other times, other manners. Mother of four children, Pauline Marois had the feeling “that we would take the opportunity to [her] oust” if she was absent for her family obligations. “In the four years of my first term, I gave birth to three children. For each of my deliveries, I only allowed myself a brief two-week leave. ” The ex-elected now admits that her role as superwoman went too far. However, she did not participate in social activities after work. “Motherhood has never slowed me down. But I was not part of the boys club.

“I am not a feminist!”

When she started out in politics, when the Minister for the Status of Women, Lise Payette, offered to lead her cabinet, Pauline Marois replied: “But … I'm not a feminist!” After reflection, she comes to the conclusion that she is deeply feminist, but that she did not like until then that this label is attached to her. In an interview, the former politician is sorry that many women do not want to call themselves feminists. “Because it's old-fashioned, it's outdated. But what is it, to be a feminist is to want equality between men and women, it is to have the same rights, to have access to the same services, the same income! ”

PKP, the “fist” of seesaw

On March 9, 2014, businessman Pierre Karl Péladeau presented himself as a candidate for the PQ by raising his fist.

The entry on the scene of Pierre Karl Péladeau rocked the electoral campaign of the Parti Québécois in 2014. Yet, confides Pauline Marois, everything had been planned out and the speech of the businessman had been carefully prepared. “Everything had been planned, except … a few improvised words under the influence of emotion,” she admits. The media mogul then launched, fist in the air: “The choice to play politics, I do it while thinking of my three children, with the wish to contribute to bequeath to them a country of which they will be proud!” Philippe Couillard's liberals only had to wave the referendum scarecrow to regain power. One thing, however, is clear in his mind: “Above all, we were not beaten because of the Charter of Values.”

She “censored” herself after the attack

Pauline Marois escorted out of the Metropolis stage after the shots.

Pauline Marois was “censored” the day after the political attack which targeted her so as not to fuel the confrontation with the English-speaking community. Downplaying the seriousness of the event was a “mistake,” she admits today.

On September 4, 2012, newly elected premier, the leader of the Parti Québécois was expected in Metropolis to celebrate the victory and celebrate this historic moment, namely the accession of a woman to the head of the government of Quebec.

She was expected to walk there. But the rain that fell that night changed the plans. She took the company car.

“I say it quite coldly, he was to kill me on the route leading me to Metropolis with my family,” she said in an interview.

Not wanting to start her mandate in a spirit of confrontation with Anglophones, she chose to adopt “an attitude of denial”.

Political attack

“At the time, I censored myself. […] It is for political reasons that he planned and carried out this attack. It was the leader of the sovereignist PQ, the premier of Quebec he was attacking, it was she and as many sovereignists as possible that he wanted to assassinate. ”

Looking back, Pauline Marois believes that she should have reacted differently and recognized that it was a political attack. She regrets having minimized this event, but she felt the duty to get to work quickly.

In the days that followed, his security team wanted him to wear a bulletproof vest.

“We came to take my measurements, the vest was made and delivered … It remained in the wardrobe.”

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