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Activism, feminism and Trudeaumania

May, 2011

How lucky can I be ?

“Bonjour, good morning,” my father said to me many, many years ago. “Remember to vote today. All offices close at 3pm and there is no reason not to go. By the way, you will vote for Mr. Duplessis — otherwise you will cancel out my vote.”

I was taken aback. There was no way that anyone, not even my father, should tell me whom to vote for. I was going to act like a mature person and cast my own vote for the very first time. I had read that the suffrage movement was started in Manitoba by Dr. Emily Stowe in 1878. But in Quebec, women were only allowed to vote after April 25, 1940.

I never told my father that I cancelled out his vote that day.

Politics has always been part of my life. After I married, we moved to Beaurepaire and I joined my party’s association. I was very active during the Trudeaumania era. My good friend and I, wearing Trudeau paper dresses with photos of him in front and back, went door to door to introduce our candidate. It was easy to get people excited about him although he had not been in politics before.

We tried to attend every rally. We travelled to Ottawa to hear one of his speeches. The hall was so packed we couldn’t see very well, so I went to the back of the room and sat next to a nice-looking young man. After a few polite exchanges, he introduced himself as Peter Mansbridge, on one of his first assignments as a journalist.

I was in awe of Trudeau’s ability to switch from flawless English to French with such agility, and with his passion for Canada. Love for my country was already in my soul and his ardour rekindled mine.

I attended La Soirée des Yvettes au Forum during the fameux référendum. This event and the result are marked in my memory because politician and feminist Lise Payette’s remarks sparked such an outcry, and I became such a strong activist. Alas! The split over the vote forged hurt and resentment within my family that remains unhealed even today.

Later on in my life, our provincial party asked me to work for them, I suppose because I am fluently bilingual. After the party came into power, I worked as an administrative secretary and political attaché for one of their ministers.

I am so lucky to live in this wonderful country called Canada, with its great beauty, freedom and many rights.

Voting, of course, is one of them.

On May 2, my friend will pick me up, and with my wheeler I will gladly vote for the party of my choice as I have always done.

How lucky can I be?



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