Monday, 24 November 2008

Cold Winds, Warm Welcome to Québec Solidaire: An Afternoon on the Hustings

Despite the wicked temperature—about -6 C or 20 F with a brisk wind—I had an experience yesterday afternoon which warmed the cockles of my heart. May Chiu is the Québec Solidaire candidate in this riding for the provincial elections and I said I’d hand out pamphlets for her in front of the Théâtre Outremont where a children’s show was being given. I got there about 15 minutes before show time to meet the young man who had the pamphlets. He’d already handed out some: “It’s good,” he said in surprise when I asked how it was going.

He was right. In 20 minutes we placed between 50 and 75 in friendly hands. A few people brushed by without saying a word, and one told us “Mon idée est faite” or my mind's already made up, which really means, I’ve discovered, that you’ve stumbled upon a partisan from another camp. But the rest were polite and many were even enthusiastic.

This is provincial Liberal territory, although the Parti Québécois has always made a good showing. I certainly did not expect such favourable response for a third party candidate in this neck of the woods.

May Chiu is not an ordinary candidate though. The immigration lawyer showed up just as we were giving out the last flyers. She was pushing a stroller where her toddler daughter was asleep: she’d taken her son to a class at the nearby YMCA which began at 4 p.m. and she couldn’t make it any early. A modest, well-spoken woman, she ran for the Bloc Québécois in the federal elections two years ago and did very well against the then-Prime Minister Paul Martin, getting 28.7 per cent against Martin’s 48.4 per cent (the Conservative candidate received 12.7 per cent.) It would seem that she could do as well if not better in Outremont.

Another political note: Earlier in the afternoon a number of Quebec personalities turned out to show their support for Québec Solidaire in a variety show. Among them was rock singer Dan Bigras, who had been a PQ supporter since before he was old enough to vote.

And a note from the other side of the border: last night I read until midnight in order to finish Sue Miller’s The Senator’s Wife. It gives careful consideration to the reasons why a woman who stand by her man when he is a terrible philanderer, as well as a glimpse at what it’s like to be a political wife. I’m tempted to package up The Violets of Usambara and send it to Miller, since some of our preoccupations are the same.

Note from Valentine's Day 2009: There's a new reading guide available for The Violets: Click here to find it.


lagatta à montréal said...

I'm glad to hear the reception was so good for Québec solidaire!

As for the Senator's Wife, that sounds like a (probably unwitting) copy of the British TV series, "The Politician's Wife".

Mary Soderstrom said...

Don't know the British series, but it's good to remember that it's not the story that matters, but the way you tell it.

Miller interweaves the Senator's wife's story with that of a young woman neighbor for many interesting reflections on women's lives in general. The whole is wrapped up in a carefully set-up plot which keeps you turning pages

Very good reading.


Anonymous said...

QS brings out all sorts of reactions.. As an anglophone collecting door-to-door signatures for a candidate's nomination, I was welcomed in, had doors slammed in my face and completely ignored.

Some people pay no attention to electoral politics.Others pretend they do but keep their ears closed.