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Despite her absence, former co-spokesperson Émilise Lessard-Therrien was at the centre of the solidarity rally in Quebec

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Québec Solidaire activists gathered for a national council in Jonquière to heal the wounds of a “collective failure”: the resignation of Émilise Lessard-Therrien as speaker.

Despite her absence, the former deputy for Rouyn-Noranda – Témiscamingue spoke on Saturday morning at the CEGEP in Jonquière. Just a few weeks ago, a closed session had been unexpectedly called so that members could talk to each other in the face of the internal crisis shaking the party. At the entrance to the activists' body, on a table covered with photos of the retiring spokesperson, there was a note with the following message: “Anyone who wants to send Émilise a thought or a gift from the heart will have it sent to them by delegates from their constituency.”

“Emilise should have stood at Gabriel's side to open the National Council. Everyone would have preferred her to be at the microphone,” her interim successor Christine Labrie said on Saturday to the approximately 200 delegates present.

Citing difficulties in integrating into the party's leadership team and a lack of systematic support in her extra-parliamentary functions, Émilise Lessard-Therrien resigned from office on 29 April.

In a letter sent to the party leadership and the Solidarity MPs' group on the eve of her departure, the former elected official laments her inability to adapt to her new roles. “It seems absurd to me that a female co-spokesperson, who does not have the same visibility and resources as a MP, does not have the bare minimum to function,” she claims in her text, published on Saturday by Radio-Canada.

In his first speech since the events of last month, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois apologized for not having anticipated “the exhaustion of Émilise” Lessard-Therrien. “I regret that I could not prevent his departure. I bear my share of responsibility for this departure,” agreed Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois. In the hall, most of the delegates present rose to applaud as he took the stage – not all of them.

At his side, Christine Labrie did not hesitate to name the “collective failure” that integration had represented as spokesperson for MMe Lessard-Therrien: “What happened forces us to think carefully about our approach,” she said.

“In particular, reflections on our feminist practices – because Émilise is not the only woman in the organization who has pointed out that it is sometimes more difficult for women to take their place. Also reflections on our leadership structures and the way we make our decisions,” she continued.

In a rare speech of this kind, Martin Roy, one of the members of Québec Solidaire's ethics committee, called on his colleagues to “free themselves from assigning blame and looking for perpetrators”. “We are not a court,” he said.

Québec Solidaire has several votes planned this weekend, including the Saguenay Declaration, drafted after the party's tour of the regions, and a proposal to revise its program.

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois wants the two documents to be adopted, which he sees as part of his approach to “modernising” the party, but he does not consider them to be an “ultimatum”.

“As long as trust [avec les militants] “It’s mutual, I want to continue,” he said on Saturday.

Further details to follow.

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