It’s not over yet
The pundits are once again predicting that the separatists are dead, buried or better still incinerated after Monday’s surprising Liberal victory. Huge in numbers, seats and vote.
Impossible to deny the first, the latter must be looked upon a bit more carefully. Ninety percent plus of the vote in a riding brings one M.N.A., so does thirty nine percent as in Saint-François where the combined vote of the ‘Independantist’ Québec Solidaire candidate and incumbent ‘Sovereignist’ Réjean Hébert beats the winning Liberal Guy Hardy by a tad under one thousand votes. The same is true in Sherbrooke and in another ten or so ridings.
We understand a little bit more since yesterday morning why Mrs. Marois was so eager to go into an election: the first witness called to the Charbonneau Commission explained that when the PQ was in power, it was getting the largest slice of the political financing money (albeit in smaller sums than the Liberals) and that when the ADQ, as the CAQ was then called, was in opposition and maybe on the verge of forming a minority government, it also started receiving its ‘fair share’ of the engineering firms seed money. While we have no reason to believe that the government in power is advised of what the enquiry commission is up to next, we are not exactly naïve either.
This is where the Péladeau effect really comes in. Mrs. Marois had not even formally resigned when he, along with Bernard Drainville and Jean-François Lisée, went on the offensive to take their spot on the successor list. If there was one thing that the federalist pundits didn’t expect, that was it.
The fact is that Mrs. Marois was a lousy public speaker, she stammered a lot, unable to use rhetoric to any extent. Péladeau, Drainville (a former Radio-Canada journalist) and Lisée have been in the communication business all their lives.
For us in the Townships it will mean, once again, that we will pay for Montreal sins where English rights are always about principles, not often about services. They have them, we don’t. And we need them badly.
Let’s face it, Pierre Reid is getting a limousine once again, the higher education mess is not solved, it’s not the PQ’s fault, by the way, and he will disagree, but a systematic laisser-faire attitude dating from the 60’s. It seems that since universities existed before the Parent commission, that Quebec didn’t have to do much, preferring to let things go on their own. The creation of the Université du Québec, a cut and paste of the Californian model, being the only progress made.
Ironically, a lot of this is due to Pierre Eliot Trudeau, the only intellectual to see and fight for…? The expulsion of the federal government for any funding in the education and training field. He should have been embraced by his fellow intellectuals, but as the saying goes: Money talks and the feds were putting money in while the Union Nationale wasn’t. Mr. Reid, having worked both at the UQ and Université de Sherbrooke, would be well placed to be given a four year mandate to bring concrete solutions to the table. If he wants to, we may lend him a copy of Trudeau’s work; it would be a nice start for a real reform.
And this is a local subject: Sherbrooke’s two universities are our best assets for job creation.
The Stanstead Cercle de Fermieres, the biggest provincial branch with forty-three members, is a very active group that meets in a large, bright space above the Quebec Registry Office. They will hold their exhibition this Saturday, April 12th, at the Sacré Coeur Church, in Stanstead.
Visiting the ‘headquarters’ of the Stanstead group, I met with the group’s president, Marcelle Goudreau, and her sister, longtime member Suzanne Boucher.
“The Cercle de Fermieres was started for two main reasons: to promote women’s causes, like voting, and to teach and promote all the textile arts that are dying,” explained Mrs. Goudreau. “We’re like the French equivalent of the Women’s Institute. Both groups belong to the Association of Country Women of the World, an organization that was created in Ontario and then moved to Europe. And we compete against the Women’s Institute in the Ayer’s Cliff Fair!” said Mrs. Boucher.
The meeting place of the group is large out of necessity: it houses over a dozen looms of different sizes. The sisters were each working on a loom, Marcelle making those sought after tea towels that last forever and absorb water like the dickens, while Suzanne was weaving a pure white tablecloth with an elegant, raised design. “I’m using acrylic so it won’t stain and it won’t shrink. Here, we combine the old with the new.”
Georgette D’Arcy, another member and also the mother of mosaic artist, Gaetan D’Arcy, was busy at a loom, throwing the ‘shuttle’ back and forth, pumping the pedals with her feet. “I find it relaxing to weave, except if you make a mistake,” she commented. Weaving, which is taught along with many other textile handi-
crafts like knitting, embroidery, crochet etc., in Cercles across the province, is taken very seriously by these women. “If you make a mistake, it’s okay – you just take it apart and start over,” said the president.
Francine DuBois, who joined the group eight years ago, was weaving a particularly difficult piece to submit to the annual Regional Congress, an exhibition and competition of handicrafts from Cercle branches across Quebec. “I like to weave, sew and knit,” she said as she worked on a ‘tete-a-tete’, a long, thin woven piece to drape over a small table, used to put plates on.
Each of the looms, including a monstrous one that takes two people to operate and is used to weave large bedspreads called ‘catalognes’, sits on top of a thick piece of carpeting. “If we didn’t have carpets underneath the looms, it would sound like thunder downstairs in the Registry Office,” said Mrs. Boucher.
“This weaving room is open every day of the week and often on weekends. We have members from Sherbrooke who all come out on a Saturday and do knitting, felting and weaving. Women can live anywhere and still be a member of our group,” mentioned Mrs. Goudreau. “And the fun part is there’s no age limit. Our oldest member is Laure-Helene Gaulin, in her late eighties, who doesn’t miss a meeting. She’ll have some pieces in the exhibit coming up this Saturday; simple, traditional but perfect pieces. Our old members can pass all their knowledge to the young members,” said Mrs. Boucher. “Our members can learn how to weave and then use the equipment for free; they just need to buy their own thread,” added Mrs. Goudreau.
Members of the Stanstead Cercle de Fermieres have recently begun awakening a whole new generation to the pleasures of creating handicrafts. A few members started a knitting club at the local elementary school, Jardin-des-Frontieres. “They put up a poster and the first time we got four kids: three boys and a girl,” said Mrs. Boucher. Two weeks later, eleven children were ready to join the knitting club, and at the next meeting there were fifteen! “It’s all free and we do it during the lunch break every two weeks. It’s so popular that we ran out of supplies,” said Marcelle. “When the kids knit at home, if they need help, they usually go see their grandma. We realized that the skill has skipped a generation,” said Suzanne.
New members are welcome to join this group that not only teaches and promotes many textile skills, but also raises money for organizations like the OLO Foundation for pregnant mothers. Although a French organization, many members are bilingual and a few members are English.
The Stanstead Cercle de Fermieres exhibition will take place this Saturday, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, in the basement of the Sacré Coeur Church, on Dufferin Street. On display will be the finest examples of weaving, knitting, crochet, sewing and more, some for sale and some available to order. There will also be demonstrations, sales tables, home-made pastries, florals and door prizes. Everyone is welcome and admission is free.
For more information about the Stanstead Cercle de Fermieres or if you would like to become a member, call Marcelle Goudreau at 819 876-5658.
Members of the Stanstead Cercle de Fermieres, (l. to r.) Francine DuBois, Suzanne Boucher, Marcelle Goudreau and Georgette D’Arcy, pose with their biggest loom which is used to weave ‘catalognes’, large bedspreads. Recycled material is often cut and used to weave into blankets or rugs.
Darren Boucher and Jayden Boucher work hard on their knitting during their lunch break at Jardin-des-Frontieres school.
Tyler Carruthers, who is learning how to knit at his school, was proud to finish his washcloth first.