Véronique Hevon: One who believes in the power of consensus

Maud Chauvin’s photo

In April 2022, her departure from political life, of course, saddened the MPs and activists of the Parti Québécois, as well as many citizens who see in Véronique Hivon a reassuring, authentic and resolute personality. With a slew of major accomplishments (End of Life Care Act, creation of specialized sexual assault courts, first vagrancy policy, etc.), some done on the opposition bench!, he knew how to make his mark. For this lawyer who trained at McGill University and the London School of Economics and Political Science in the UK, politicians have every interest in working in tandem for the welfare of society. An ambitious vision that her colleagues often considered fanciful, even naive, but that was without relying on the quiet strength of a person who had done so much for Quebec society. Now is the time for her to take a step back, and especially to catch her breath, from the madness of the halls of the National Assembly.

When you announced your departure from political life, you said that you dreamed of a “zone of freedom and normal life.” Have you found her since?

I’m still a little on my honeymoon in my new life! For 14 years, politics was a huge privilege of mine, but now I enjoy the little things in everyday life, including making lunches for my daughter and driving her to school! In addition, I have time to read, deepen and absorb everything that I went through strong and powerful during this period.

Moreover, your daughter is exactly the same age as you are in politics. Are you surprised to see her mom now so much?

We set the pandemic back a little bit by working side by side in our own businesses. When I told her the news, she had a more realistic reaction, simply asking me what I was going to do. She seems to be adjusting well, but I think she finds me a little intense with the academic stuff!

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With this page turned, will you turn the page on political activism and civic engagement?

Two main reasons got me involved in politics: Quebec sovereignty and social justice. I will always be there for those two reasons, but I want to be out of politics, because it has long occupied all the space, and not just on a professional level. I want to continue to make a difference, but dig deeper into the issues, and not do it in a hurry and right away.

Since the adoption of the law on end-of-life care in 2014, you’ve been defined as a consensus builder, which is an exceptional advantage in the context of sometimes fierce political competition. Innate or acquired talent?

The institution of Parliament has been shaped by centuries of male power, and many believe this to be a proven and established fact. Before delving into politics, I found this hyper-partisanship distressing, and decided not to fall into these traps. And above all, to craft policy as I, as a citizen, wanted to see it: with more listening, more cooperation, where people feel more respected.

When people ask your advice as a former politician, is it different if it’s a man or a woman?

I am open to dialogue, and I do not want to give the impression that there is science. Man or woman, the important thing is to know why you want to go into politics; I’ve met many people for whom it wasn’t very clear… Whether it’s to stand up for the citizens of your part of the country, to change unfair things in your neighborhood or to support a cause close to our hearts, you have to find a sense of what you want to achieve, because it’s demanding Too much, and stay true to yourself. This does not mean not getting better, but always paying attention to your inner voice. For women, I would tell them to have confidence in their skills and potential. They are often studious, wanting to delve deeper into a topic to feel comfortable, while Politics appreciate informal contacts of the “talk to so-and-so rather than read documents” type. My advice: don’t let yourself get wrapped up in this traditional way, and do things your own way.

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What will you miss most about politics, and what will you regret least?

The beauty of politics is candid camaraderie, teamwork with people from 7 to 77 from all walks of life, from all socioeconomic backgrounds, willing to work together on an issue despite their differences. You are in a constant state of learning, and more open to different things, which makes you a better human being. This richness is difficult to recapture in other environments of similar depth. What won’t I miss? Being a perfectionist, looking it all up, ready to bounce back, and answering the morning news while talking to colleagues to make sure you get along. It’s exciting, but I don’t miss being constantly on edge. 14 years ago, I had to simultaneously learn the role of mother and that of vicar, and eventually minister, with guilt as a reward. This is not necessarily the recipe I recommend!

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