If you would like to volunteer and join the effort, please contact us at the above email before embarking on any translation work, in order to avoid any redundancies. We cannot accept translations that have not been cleared with us first.
For more useful English-language sources on the conflict, see:
Lise Payette June 29, 2012
Original French Text: http://www.ledevoir.com/politique/quebec/353510/dis-moi-qui-tu-frequentes
The day that Jean Charest introduced, for the first time, a Cabinet with the same number of women as men, I clapped my hands and thanked him on behalf of the women of Quebec who, it seemed to me, thanks to him, had just made a big stride towards a de facto equality that finally ceased to be mere wishful thinking.
I believed it. I even thought that, if for no other reason than this decision, Charest would be a great premier. I hadn’t understood a thing. It is enough to observe his attitude towards women since then to understand how they get used by him on a daily basis. He uses women, like everything else for that matter, for his own benefit, especially when doing so strengthens his positions.
I should have become wary of his attitude towards women the day when, in a fit of anger, he called a young legislator a “bitch” because she dared to ask a question about the activities of Mrs. Charest. For him not to appreciate the question, wishing to keep his political and private lives separate from each other, is one thing, but to refer to someone as a “bitch” for daring to venture into that minefield is another.
The Premier entrusted important ministries to his women (the “Charest’s Angels”), and the first impression, in watching him do it, was to think he was thereby demonstrating how much faith in them he had. One may not agree with the policies they had to defend or the ministerial decisions that often tied their hands, but their devotion to the liberal cause and their blind loyalty to their leader were unquestionable. One might, then, have expected that he at least would support them whenever they went to war with unpopular policies that the people didn’t accept, and ensure they were not left to fight the battles alone. He never did that.
He chose instead to remain on the sidelines. Even in the National Assembly, he ended up not responding to questions from the opposition addressed to him personally, choosing instead to let his female ministers go to bat in his stead. It occurred to me that he was using the female ministers like human shields, enabling him to deflect the blows that were nonetheless intended for him.
His women ended up dropping like flies. The first to jump ship was the Minister of Finance, Monique Jérôme-Forget. Perhaps some day we will learn why she walked out. She was then followed by Nathalie Normandeau, the Deputy Premier no less, whose ambitions were obvious, however. The third, Line Beauchamp, was Minister of Education until only recently, and it is said she left because she could not in good conscience defend Bill 78.
The great void was immediately filled by Michelle Courchesne, the agent of Charest’s dirty work. The Premier left Christine St-Pierre to wallow around in her statements about violence being engendered by the wearing of the red square, while she was only repeating what he himself had claimed on several occasions. Yolande James has been carrying the burden of the Tomassi legacy as well as she can, while waiting for justice to be done. It would be no exaggeration to say that the women are struggling. Not because they are women, but because Jean Charest seems to be amused by them.
One need only consider the treatment to which he has subjected Pauline Marois for years in the National Assembly to understand that Charest has nothing but contempt for women who have the hubris to believe themselves his equal. The patience of Marois as well as her resistance to the numerous lowly and vile attacks by Charest often imparts to her a quality of holiness!
That is why the latest cheap shot by Charest and the Liberal Party leveled at Marois, ridiculing her presence among her people, in the street with her people, banging on casseroles with them, in a last-ditch effort to awaken the Liberal representatives who have been asleep at the switch for nine years, came as no surprise.
It attested to the undeniable antipathy Charest has for Quebecers in general, for women and for Pauline Marois in particular. It would be logical to think that the ad ridiculing Marois in the presence of her people, in the street with them, banging on pots and pans with them, was part of a strategy for the next election.
Jean Charest’s disdain for what he calls “the street” will not make us forget that he himself is more at ease in the grand salons of the rich, whether at the Élysée, where he so enjoyed being received by Sarkozy, or in Sagard, where the Canadian upper crust goes about its routines. Tell me whom you see, and I’ll tell you who you are.
Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.
*Translating the printemps érable is a volunteer collective attempting to balance the English media’s extremely poor coverage of the student conflict in Québec by translating media that has been published in French into English. These are amateur translations; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may still leave something to be desired. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us at email@example.com. Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.