"Women in positions of power strive towards social justice and egalitarianism"


Carole Poirier is a politician in the Canadian province of Quebec, and was elected to represent the Hochelaga- Maisonneuve district in the National Assembly of Quebec in the 2008 provincial election. She is a member of the Parti Québécois (PQ). Carole, in her role as the official spokesperson for the Official Opposition in the Quebec Assembly for matters related to International affairs, has the opportunity to interact with representatives from other nations.Carole’s background and interest in various cultures of the world have been deepened and enhanced by her work at the UNESCO, Paris, where for the past ten years she has served on a Committee on Cultural Diversity, representing all the Francophone countries.  Abhijit Ganguly spoke to her in an exclusive interview.

Carole was invited by the Kala Bharati community to deliver a lecture on cultural diversity and the rapprochement of cultures at the India International Centre in New Delhi. She presented her ideas on the importance of protecting cultures of minority populations.Kala Bharati organization has submitted a plan of activities for Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations, to ochelaga- Maisonneuve, an official division of Montreal, in which it is located. This dynamic community wishes to develop even more dynamic cultural links with the city of Montreal and wishes to involve the Indian community in the festivities of Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations: Celebrating Resonances In Cultural  Diversity.

How do you see the role of women in the political scenario?

Women have influenced public debate and policy towards more social justice, egalitarianism, and social measures.

In the West, feminism has highlighted the difficulties faced by women in positions of power, including women in politics. What are your thoughts on this and how do they reflect on your experiences as a politician?

Women in positions of power and decision making always face comparison with their male counterparts. Further, it is often implied that women should adopt patterns of behaviour and thinking that usually characterise men, but even when they do, there are judged according to other standards. A man speaking loudly to make his point is said to have guts whereas a woman is looked upon as being hysterical. Women have to be themselves, as women, not something else.

What has been the greatest challenge in your career thus far and how have you overcome it?

For me, the major challenges included becoming a member of Québec’s National Assembly representing Hochelaga- Maisonneve, the neighborhood where I grew up and learning to embody and defend my fellow citizens’ aspirations. I have striven for this in the past seven years.

Can you talk about one woman who has influenced or impacted you?

I worked for fifteen years with Louise Harel, who was the first woman to be the President of Québec’s National Assembly and President of l’Assemblée des Parlementaires de la Francophonie. As Minister of Labour, she pushed for wage equity and was Hochelaga-Maisonneuve’s MNA for 27 years.

What policies are undertaken in Canada to promote and allow the coalescence of a pluralist society? What identity initiatives are constructed in order to provide a common unifying base that secures one collective interest above an amalgamation of different cultures?

Québec’s official language is French. We have fought to gain more political powers and institutions. The French speaking people are a minority in Canada and North America. It has been a struggle to keep our culture alive, dynamic, and flourishing. Newcomers are encouraged to follow French courses, which are paid by the government. We hope to build an open and a diversified French speaking society in which all cultures are welcome.

What are your thoughts on the role of cultural diversity and cross-cultural communication as a means for conflict transformation and peace-building in countries where ethnic and tribal identities are salient?

Building peace starts with conversation, mutual discovery, and bridging the gaps between our differences. That means being open and receptive to others and curious of the beauty of other cultures. Free trade, globalization, and a consumer society tend to transform culture in marketable goods. This negatively impacts our interactions with each other because buying something means neither knowing someone nor living a human experience. That is one major problem humanity has to face when addressing the question of promoting cultural diversity.

What advice do you have for young women who are hoping to join politics?

Get involved in a cause that you are passionate about! Debate constructively with others and always strive to develop the finest, strongest, and most clear ideas possible. Never accept second-rate positions and supporting roles. Believe in yourselves and be the best person you can be.


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