Political hopeful’s rival in Papineau has interesting past
Vivian Barbot has ties to Haiti’s Papa Doc
Vivian Barbot, a newcomer to the political scene, captured the Papineau riding for the Bloc Québécois in last January’s federal election, a major victory for the separatist party. Not only did Ms. Barbot defeat Liberal Cabinet minister Pierre Pettigrew, she ended a string of Liberal victories stretching back to 1953.
The victory was a nail-biter, however. Mr. Pettigrew won the riding over a Bloc candidate by fewer than 500 votes in 2004; Ms. Barbot topped the ballot by fewer than 1,000.
Granddaughter of Crescent Jean-Baptiste, a Haitian notable she describes as having been a prosperous landowner, judge and senator, Ms. Barbot is less forthcoming about her late father. Clement Barbot, a 1989 New Yorker magazine report said, was the “ruthless” head of the Tontons Macoutes death squads of Haitian President François (Papa Doc) Duvalier.
It is known — and this Ms. Barbot will say — that her father turned against the Duvalier dictatorship in the early 1960s, was imprisoned, released and eventually assassinated in 1963.
Her family spent 21 months living in the Argentinian em- bassy for protection. In 1965, she left Haiti with her mother, brother and two sisters. They lived as exiles in Argentina, where Ms. Barbot met and fell in love with a Quebec tourist, Real Lymburner. They married and settled in Montreal in 1967. A few years later, they moved to the Eastern Townships, where they raised their three children.
Ms. Barbot became a teacher and spent 20 years as a specialist in French literature at the CEGEP de Victoriaville. In 2001, she retired to take up a high-profile post as the first visible minority to be president of the Quebec Federation of Women. Then the Bloc came calling, and Ms. Barbot entered federal politics.