Quebec's Premier Jean Charest (C) and his wife Michele Dionne.
Credits: REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger
Michelle Dionne tells QMI Agency that Charest decided instead to fight for his political future and seek a fourth mandate. Speaking during a visit to local businesses, Dionne admitted this week she had her own doubts about whether Charest should call it quits after nearly three decades in federal and provincial politics.
"I thought that maybe he had (done enough), maybe he had given everything," said Dionne, who is campaigning on her husband's behalf in their home riding. "But this is such a passionate man. He believes in Quebec, he has plenty of projects in Quebec. He can't stop, and I don't see him doing anything else. I can't do anything but rally behind him."
Dionne and Charest were married in 1980 and she has spent most of the ensuing three-plus decades navigating the tough waters of politics alongside him. He was first elected in the federal riding of Sherbrooke in 1984, when Brian Mulroney's Progressive Conservatives swept to power. She raised their son and two daughters while he spent the next 14 years as a federal MP, cabinet minister and finally leader of the PC Party in Ottawa.
Facing intense pressure to battle the separatist threat at home following the 1995 referendum, Charest made the tough decision in 1998 to return to Quebec full time and take over the provincial Liberals.
This is now the couple's fifth provincial campaign together, and Dionne can often be found visiting factories and doing door-to-door visits when Charest is away. "My husband and I, it's been 28 years that we've been doing politics and we've always done it together," she said. "That's our strength. I like it as much as him, and for us Sherbrooke is important because this is where it all began."
It could all come crashing down for the first family of provincial politics in Quebec, with polls indicating Charest is trailing PQ candidate Serge Cardin in his riding by 15 points at the start of the campaign. But Dionne won't concede anything.
The CBC famously declared that Charest had been defeated in Sherbooke in the 2007 election, only to make an embarrassing retraction. "Every election, they tell me that my husband is in danger," said Dionne, while adding: "We can't take anything for granted."