Dominique Anglade denounces the double standard imposed on female politicians

QUEBEC — Life as a politician isn’t easy, especially if you’re leading a party. In politics, women are judged more harshly on their appearance or mood, feel an obligation to be perfect at all times and in every way, have no room for error or anger, and have to constantly prove themselves. Double standards. Two weights, two sizes. Still, in 2022.

And if, as the leader of the official opposition, we also have to meet Prime Minister François Legault every day in parliament, things don’t get any better.

This feminist outing, like a cry from the heart, comes from the leader of the Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ), Dominique Anglade, convinced that being a woman has far from nothing to do with the adversities her party faces, in trap free in the polls, and the Prime Minister’s attitude towards him.

“He’s a paternalistic person, that’s for sure,” she said of Mr Legault, during a lengthy interview with The Canadian Press, in a cafe in Quebec City, after a week of hardship for his party, following the Marie by-election — Victorin on Monday, when the PLQ had to settle for fifth place and a humiliating 7% of the popular support.

Ms Anglade did not like Mr Legault’s comment at all the night of his party’s victory over Marie-Victorin, when he said Quebeckers did not like her “throwing mud” on the CHSLD Herron’s file, where dozens of seniors died in appalling conditions during the first wave of the pandemic. “We’re in the sewers!” said Mr Legault, visibly irritated by the questions from the official opposition leader, day after day.

He believes that the prime minister has exceeded the limits and does not reserve “a fair treatment of the facts”. Is it therefore paternalistic, condescending, even sexist? “Absolutely”, replies Mrs Anglade

There are “how many opposition leaders in the last 20 years have been called whiny?” or else complain”, rather than determined or determined.

“There’s the bias,” in the other, harsher, negative look, if it’s a woman, she says, refusing all that to pretend to be a victim.

This attitude makes her very upset, especially because she feels that she is always in control in the National Assembly, convinced that the slightest misstep, a clumsy word, an outburst of anger will not be forgiven.

However, he sometimes gets angry when he hears certain thoughts from the prime minister, such as when he said in the Chamber in February through a closed microphone that the president of the National Assembly, François Paradis, had been a Quebecer since he became a caquiste. She says she uttered a few swear words that day, but swallowed her anger in front of the media decided “not to show anything”, and would certainly pass for hysterical if she had gotten to the core of her thoughts. At the slightest increase in tone she will pass for aggressive, which irritates her.

She believes that Mr. Legault treats men and women around him differently. “It is clear that he passes the towel more easily to men,” she judges, referring to the three women who have been on the Council of Ministers since the start of the mandate, MarieChantal Chassé, Sylvie D’Amours and Marie-Eve Proulx. No male minister has suffered the same fate, while some have struggled.

She cites the case of the Economy Minister, Pierre Fitzgibbon, who was repeatedly rejected by the Commissioner for Ethics, but is still in office. “I, I could never have done what Pierre Fitzgibbon did” and remain a minister,” said this former economy minister in the Coillard cabinet, convinced she “wouldn’t have gone through it” because “we don’t accept that a female politician may be in troubled waters.

“I have much less room for error” than a politician, the liberal leader believes, convinced that women, unlike men, have no “right to pass”.

To reverse the trend, she argues that it would be necessary to make ‘all room’ for female political leadership, and that this snowball is reflected in all walks of life.

The perfect woman syndrome

Knowing they have no wiggle room, female politicians strive to be nothing short of perfect, notes the liberal leader.

She says that like so many other women who have tried to make their mark in politics, she suffers from the “syndrome of the one who cannot make mistakes, that I have it”.

Hence his caution in his interventions.

Except that this reflex “limits you in everything you can be, in everything you can say, in the way you express yourself”. In short, it “prevents you from being what you naturally are”.

She also says she sees “a dichotomy between the person I am and the perception” people have of her. A gap between the public image and the real person.

“It’s still not quite normal that every time I meet someone,” the person’s comment is as follows: “it’s not at all how I perceived you”.

With the election deadline approaching, whoever has led her party for nearly two years wants to be much more likely to be on the ground to introduce voters to the ‘real’ Dominique Anglade.

The regions massively shunned the PLQ in 2018. In particular, it relies on its Charter of the Regions to win back the votes of the French-speakers, advocating greater decentralization of powers. A first announcement about this will be made on Thursday in Trois-Rivières.

The liberal leader says he wants to return to the party’s fundamental values, including economic development. Its vision is to integrate economic development, wealth creation and the fight against climate change into a coherent whole.

She is well aware that she only has a few months left to recover. “The challenge is huge, but exciting,” she says.

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