Public sector negotiations | “I hear your anger”

Faced with the controversy sparked by her departure to Dubai for COP28 in the middle of negotiations with Quebec, the president of the FTQ finally returned to Quebec.

Stay. Leave. To come back. Being in the right place at the right time. This is something many leaders learn the hard way. Including Magali Picard, president of the Quebec Federation of Workers (FTQ), who “escaped it,” according to Geneviève Tellier, full professor at the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa.

Mme Picard decided on Tuesday to rush back from Dubai a few hours after landing there – after noting that his departure for the COP28 on the climate, in the middle of negotiations and between two strikes, was very poorly received in Quebec.

I hear, I read, I receive your comments, your anger at the fact that I am not in Montreal.

Magali Picard, president of the Quebec Federation of Workers, in a video

Going there “was not a decision that I took without thinking,” she added, insisting on the fact that currently, “we have no one in the street on the common front. Negotiations continue at the tables.”

These are members of other unions who are actually on strike these days, but the common front announced on Tuesday other days of strike, from December 8 to 14.

The controversy raised by the departure of Mme Did Picard influence Eric Girard? In any case, the Minister of Finance has given up on going to New York this week as planned. He was to meet investors and Gary Bettman, the commissioner of the National Hockey League. He ultimately remains in Quebec to focus on the government’s financial framework in the context of ongoing negotiations in the public sector, his office said.

Called to comment on M’s hard dayme Picard, political scientist Geneviève Tellier notes that “an error can happen”.

But “when you are president of the FTQ, you are a figure of the union movement, one of its spokespersons. This is the job description. [Et] when you are in negotiations, when your troops are sacrificing days of salary, you have to wash whiter than white. »

On social networks, in the comments received at The Presscitizens made the connection with the excesses of Dominique Ollivier, former president of the Office de consultation publique de Montréal, and with the decision of the Legault government to pay between 5 and 7 million to bring the Los Angeles Kings to the Quebec.

The importance of sensing public opinion

Isn’t the comparison lame? Mme Tellier notes that in fact, these are all errors of judgment which illustrate the difficulty of various leaders, these days, “in sniffing out what is a good or a bad decision” and the way in which it will be received by the ‘public opinion.

The FTQ initially assured that Mme Picard could be reached at any time in Dubai. Mme Tellier notes that there is a time difference and that in any case, “devoting 100% to two files at the same time” would have been difficult.

What would have been its real added value at COP28 “if it was always taken up” by the current issue in Quebec? she also asks, believing that her presence there was certainly not essential.

Thierry Giasson, professor at Laval University in the political science department and specialist in political communication, judges on the contrary that Mme Picard would have been perfectly capable of leading both issues at the same time and reminds us once again that it is not she who is currently sitting at the negotiating table.

He is nevertheless of the opinion that his departure at COP28 “was not the best decision”, especially since “the timing was bad” with the announcement, precisely on Tuesday, of other strike days in December.

But his decision to return quickly was perfect, he emphasizes.

She said she understood that it was not a good idea, she reacted quickly, put the lid on the pot.

Thierry Giasson, professor at Laval University in the political science department and specialist in political communication

Mr. Giasson notes that she is far from being the only one to have to correct the situation, that “François Legault is the king” of the about-face.

“Eat a few slaps” and remember it

Communication and public relations practitioner, Bernard Motulsky, who teaches at UQAM, argues that leaders and public figures must take note of the fact that the codes have changed. “Nowadays, due to environmental problems, even a plane trip can be blamed on you. »

Like Mme Tellier, Mr. Motulsky is surprised that M’s teamme Picard mismeasured the impact of this trip.

But “the public opinion sensors of brilliant people can also work more or less” at times.

“We see it with Mr. Legault’s government,” he says. There is mist on the lenses. »

Politicians and leaders of large organizations “are generally far from the ground,” to the point that it is not impossible, according to Mr. Motulsky, that the FTQ in no way saw the controversy coming.

But in politics as in trade unionism, “you learn quickly when you take a few slaps”.


One of the famous cases remains the vacation of Jean Doré, ex-mayor of Montreal. During the flood of July 14, 1987, he remained on vacation even though part of the city was submerged. Geneviève Guilbault, Minister of Transport, made sure not to star in this film: in March, she cut short her mission in Europe to manage the crisis at the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec.

Earlier this month, Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, was heavily criticized for going on a three-week trip to French Polynesia and New Caledonia, an 88,000-euro (C$131,000) trip. This long journey far from Paris, for an official trip and before a vacation, was described as “Tahiti Gate” by the opposition.

Note that in the midst of war, the president of Israel, Isaac Herzog, and that of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, will themselves be at COP28 in a few days.

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