The 40 years of the first referendum: the spark plug of the “Yvette”

Les 40 ans du premier référendum: la bougie d’allumage des «Yvette»

Rarely a text will, in a political campaign in Quebec, was also a determinant.

I speak of the editorial of the Duty of Lise Bissonnette of 11 march 1980, which produced neither more nor less than the phenomenon of ” Yvette “, which galvanized the camp of the NON.

A virulence rare, it was entitled to Say no to this courage-here and complained about a surge of rhetoric from the minister of State pq of the status of women, Lise Payette, former presenter tv star.

At the end of the thread, Lise Bissonnette remembers very well the day of the month of march of the banal, where she wrote her paper.

Lise Bissonnette
A columnist’s Duty in 1980″>

Lise Bissonnette
A columnist’s Duty in 1980

“I had an appointment at the dentist in the afternoon, I was in a hurry. “She sought desperately for a topic of text for the bottom of the editorial page.

Quickly, it comes to mind the kind of repugnance to him had inspired, the same morning, a quote attributed to Lise Payette, in a report on a gathering of women for the YES Montreal.

“The minister said, in sum, that the women who would vote NO were submitted. “Subject as this “Yvette” found in a textbook in which she complained about the gender stereotypes.

In addition, Ms. Payette was assigned to the 750-women present at the gathering that she “hated” the liberal leader Claude Ryan. The latter, if he became prime minister, would like to ” Yvette full-Québec… he is married to Yvette “.


This is what mit Bissonnette in fury. On the one hand, it was to ” bind a woman to the personality of her husband as this is no longer done since the early days of feminism “, she wrote in her editorial.

Then, it was necessary to know the wife of Claude Ryan, who’s name was Madeleine (and non-Yvette, france, as some have come to believe), to know that she was not at all the type stay at home mother to be docile, subordinate to her husband.

Gold, Lise Bissonnette knew it well since Claude Ryan was his boss from 1974 to 1978. “Before you go, Madeleine Ryan, through her husband, wrote Bissonnette, Ms. Payette could learn a bit. Just a little bit. ”

However, Ms. Ryan was a member of the superior Council of education between other and active in all kinds of social movements.


“I finished my text, I went to the dentist. After, what happened, I was completely overwhelmed “, said yet Lise Bissonnette.

The text has an effect resounding. The blunder of the minister star and former presenter of tv is discussed, denounced it.

The activists also federalists, indignant, write hundreds of letters of protest, and encourage women to come together to denounce these remarks.

The organization of a liberal, however, is reluctant to over-exploit a blunder. But the liberal women insist, and decide to capitalize on the event.

On 30 march, they organize a “Brunch Yvette” at the Château Frontenac in Quebec city. And then, on the 7th of April, rent, outright, the Montreal Forum and fill it with some 15 000 “Yvette” !

On the stage, the moderator Michelle Tisseyre gives voice to a group of women around Madeleine Ryan : ministers federal Monique Bégin and Jeanne Sauvé, the deputies of the QLP Thérèse Lavoie-Roux and Solange Chaput-Rolland, as well as the famous suffragette, Therese Casgrain.

March 31, 1980

Lise Bissonnette was discovered in the crowd. A few hours earlier, she refused to go.

“I was a little traumatized still. “His companion had had to convince her. She remembers that there was ” any “in the evening, including a “backlash” against a certain feminism adamant watching of the top women in the roles more traditional.

“Some pq members and I have wanted to death,” recalls Lise Bissonnette, herself a sovereignist.

If the case of Yvette, has given an impetus to the campaign of the NON-who was struggling to take off, it not believe, however, that it is this that has allowed him to win by as large a margin.

April 8, 1980

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