As a former Member of Parliament in Canada, why did you go into politics? What had you hoped to accomplish in governance?
I wanted to improve my city, Montreal, mainly better infrastructure, streets and sidewalks, better public transportation (less cars better mobility), cleaner streets and better waste management. My leitmotiv was: “if you want to change politics, you have to change the people that do politics”, and I wanted to put my ideas into actions. I knew what the NDP stood for: protecting the environment, fighting poverty and protecting social programs. I liked very much our leader Jack Layton and his approach of Working Together to make a better Canada. I understood it as all politicians working together away from partisanship.
You were also the chair of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, how do you think we, Canadians, are doing on Women’s Issues? Where do you believe needs more work to be done?
I think the work that needs to be done is in pay equity, I also think that we need to make certain sector of activities more attractive to women. Canada still has an important energy, resource and construction sectors that need to attract more women to these high paying jobs. There is still work to be done as well to facilitate women entrepreneurship. Violence against women and poverty are impediments to women getting ahead in life. I think we need to reinforce positive, successful models for girls and invite more successful women to be mentors in building strong networks where ideas and success path can be shared.
More women are needed in politics; in all branches of government. What is your recommendation or advice for more women to get involved in governance?
In 2009, I told the team: “well if you don’t have anybody else, I will run as a candidate if that is OK”. I think we have to take a risk and say: Yes! There are a lot of opportunities now for women to be candidates or to take leadership role, we have to stop over-analyzing and underestimate our capacities. The opportunities are there and the support as well it is just a matter of surrounding oneself with a good team and to go for it.
In your accomplished career within different sectors, what have you learned that you see as prominent life-lessons that have, and continue to influence you?
Never give up, even when the road is rough! Ask for help! Talk, listen and move on. Always remember the 80-20 rule, 80 % of the time you’ll love it and 20% that is just the worst. Don’t focus on the 20%, remind yourself of what you love about that job and focus on that.
What is your advice to readers you wish you had known earlier, or would really like to share?
Take time to reflect, when the though gets going, take a breather and really examine what is your field of action. Don’t try to fight windmills. Focus your energy on what you can really truly change and make sure that you enjoy yourself on that journey! Life is too short! Enjoy the ride!
(For full version of this interview, or to share it, please click on the button, here below.)