Québec solidaire co-spokesperson steps down, citing mental health concerns, issues within party

Click to play video: 'Québec Solidaire co-spokesperson Émilise Lessard-Therien steps down'
Québec Solidaire co-spokesperson Émilise Lessard-Therien steps down
Watch: Québec Solidaire co-spokesperson Émilise Lessard-Therien steps down – Apr 29, 2024

Québec solidaire co-spokesperson Émilise Lessard-Therrien has stepped down, just five months after taking on the role.

The former MNA for Rouyn-Noranda had been on leave since the end of March and has now announced she won’t be coming back, out of concern for her mental health.

“Barely four months was enough to exhaust me, completely,” Lessard-Therrien wrote in a lengthy social media post Monday morning. “It is difficult for me to speak out today, out of concern not to hurt my party.”

In the post, Lessard-Therrien says she struggled to find her place within the party, working with a team already so tightly wound around its male co-spokesperson, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois.

“I sometimes managed to do it, but I felt very alone and I had trouble finding my place,” she wrote. “The different visions clashed, seeming difficult to reconcile.”

Story continues below advertisement

She says she was also discouraged from giving her honest opinion in public and eventually refrained from speaking out on issues, out of fear of being misunderstood or going unheard.

Caucus members were quick to voice their support in the comment section of the post on Monday.

“Your difficult and courageous move will not go unanswered inside the party,” Québec solidaire MNA Sol Zanetti wrote. “The political fight is not supposed to be this draining.”

Lessard-Therrien was chosen as Québec solidaire’s co-spokesperson in a leadership race last November, winning a leadership race against MNAs Ruba Ghazal and Christine Labrie.

She replaced Manon Massé, who had been co-spokesperson for seven years.

In a news conference in Granby Monday, Nadeau-Dubois said it was a difficult transition, especially given Lessard-Therien is no longer an MNA and was therefore not able to access national assembly resources.

“It was a challenge for our organization to completely change the way we operate after seven years of having, as a duo, Manon and myself,” he told reporters. “What I saw is everyone working in good faith to make it work and overcome that challenge. I take my part of responsibility in that failure — we should have been able to make it work.”

Story continues below advertisement

Nadeau-Dubois says he still believes in Québec solidaire’s system of having two spokespeople rather than a leader.

This is the second time he’s had to defend his leadership in recent months. Over the fall, Former Québec solidaire MNA Catherine Dorion published a book outlining similar concerns to Lessard-Therrien of having her voice silenced in the party.

Dorion also took to social media to voice her support for Lessard-Therrien’s decision to step down.

“Your departure is a loss for the party but is, in some ways, a victory for the left,” she wrote, “those who refuse, they too, stubbornly and categorically, to lose sense of our ideas of justice.”

Nadeau-Dubois acknowledged there are lessons to be learned from both Lessard-Therrien’s departure and Dorion’s book, but he believes he still has the support of his caucus and voters.

Labrie, who was also at the news conference in Granby, said she would not stay in the party if she felt it was a toxic work environment.

Out of respect for Lessard-Therien, party officials have not yet announced the details of the leadership race to replace her.

Sponsored content