Catherine Dorion, self-confessed “hot head”

The new essay by the artist and former member of Quebec solidaire, Catherine Dorion, is addressed to “all the irreverent people of Quebec” who wish to break with the environmental stagnation. By revealing in her book the obstacles that sapped her energy during her tenure in the National Assembly, especially within her party, she hopes it can be helpful to other activists.

Sitting at the Oui oui Café in Quebec, the woman who left politics more than a year ago insists on the importance of “awakening irreverence” in the population. His essay, which also bears the title hotheads, intended to be a re-appropriation of this derogatory term. “I’ve had it all my life. My mother said to me, ‘You don’t see the danger.’ But I’ve also been told in many places in my life, ‘You’re going too far. Have you thought about the consequences?’ » To which he responds with a phrase from filmmaker Pierre Falardeau: “We always go too far for people who are not going anywhere. »

Catherine Dorion is more of the opinion that what poses a problem at the moment is the “failure of hope” that affects Quebec society. “We no longer believe in the future, we no longer know what the point of putting energy is, we are totally defeatist, we no longer want to get up. » His book, which comes out in bookstores on Monday, is therefore intended to be a call to stop behaving collectively like a “deer stopped in front of the headlights of the truck”.

“Freedom of expression”

To achieve this, politicians must be able to express themselves freely, without being restricted by party lines, says the woman who sat in the Salon bleu from 2018 to 2022.

In his essay, he evokes his speeches in public space that made headlines, but also irritated the co-spokesman of solidarity, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois. “He expresses very clearly to me the crux of the problem (…): “You have more media attention than the spokespersons, this is not normal”. As they say in the theater: Andon top of the stage. It doesn’t happen,” he writes.

Catherine Dorion relates that she then understood that the media’s “attacks” on her clothing, such as wearing hoodies at the Salon Bleu, were going to “divide” Mr. Nadeau-Dubois and her.

The mother of three would rather have expected the 33-year-old politician to adopt the same attitude he had in 2018, shortly after the election of ten solidarity deputies. “Are we bothering you, are we pushing you? Get used to it,” he said at the time. “I thought that would be the style (of the party) and that we would develop a sense of belonging around this irreverence , which I consider essential,” he emphasizes.

He laughs that the “punk” attitude is evenly distributed among all social groups in Quebec. “It’s very common among immigrants, people from the region, young and old,” he observes.

Between doubts and need

The 41-year-old admits to having had doubts when writing her book, especially for fear that certain passages would be picked up by “right-wing commentators to try to weaken the left”. “But, at the same time, it will be momentary. And I believe that the vision I bring can give rise to debates and reflections that can be beneficial in the long term”, he adds.

He also mentions Mr. Nadeau-Dubois, who, like many others, participates in an important part of the political game that consists of engaging in “negotiations of emotional pressure and power.”

Mme Dorion hopes that Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois and Manon Massé, the latter preparing to pass the torch as co-spokesperson while still an MP, will take the time to read his essay. “They’re not going to be happy, but I just hope they understand why and don’t think he directly hurt them because there’s no such thing,” she whispers, her eyes misty.

It is rather about observing the different power relations, especially in partisan politics, and thinking about them, he explains. “We have gotten so into our heads that the enemy had a name and that it is called “the other side” or whatever, then, the other forms of power that want to restrict and flatten you, your brain acts as if they don’t exist. And the closer it is to you, in your work environment, the harder it is to see it”, he explains, with a sharp look.

stolen energy

The sum of the obstacles encountered managed to rob him of some of his vitality during his term, he regrets. The ex-deputy for Taschereau, however, believes that she is now much better than when she left politics. Reading his essay, friends admitted to him that they didn’t know he had suffered so much during his tenure, especially because of the salvos from the media. “I was cursed. But I no longer feel cheated. However, it is certain that I will not return with the kind of energy I had before. »

His exhaustion had reached such a point during his time in the National Assembly that he had become unable to immerse himself in reading novels or essays, he confides. “I was going so fast that I could read fragments of text, reports, but I no longer had the concentration for books or writing. I wanted to bring art into politics, but at the end of my term I could no longer create. »

Looking back, Catherine Dorion certainly doesn’t get bored with the busy schedule of an MP, who “makes me want to throw up just thinking about it”. “But we had a weight in the balance. This is the side hot to be part of the party”, he underlines, about the mobilizations he had organised, among others, to oppose the third link.

He does not rule out returning to active politics one day. “Maybe later in life, like sixty.” But right now, I would have zero energy. » The artist, who left the Salon bleu to “ignite the social movement” with his creations, will take the stage in 2025 to present a piece of documentary theater about politics. “It is somewhat inspired by the book, but it goes beyond our relationship and our submission to work. »

hot heads Notebooks of punk hope

Catherine Dorion, Lux Éditeur, Montreal, 2023, 376 pages

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