Campaigning with a baby: How two women are juggling politics and motherhood
Published Saturday, September 19, 2015 5:56PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, September 19, 2015 7:14PM EDT
Campaigning can be gruelling for even the most energetic candidates. But what's it like campaigning with a baby -- and how do young moms balance politics and motherhood?
It can be challenging, especially during such a long campaign.
Christine Poirier knows those challenges all too well. The Liberal candidate in the downtown riding of Laurier-Sainte-Marie, she added a new member to her team nine days ago: a daughter named Florence.
“Today is my first day out of the house, so I'll go slowly, but I'll do as much as I can,” said Poirier, adding that she didn't mind knocking on doors during her pregnancy.
“The election came and I was officially the candidate for the party for a year already, so it just happened this way,” she said.
While recovering in hospital after her delivery, Liberal Leader Justin's Trudeau's wife stepped in to help out.
“I feel very much supported by my team and by the party. They sent flowers, and Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau came to do door-knocking one afternoon this week,” she said.
Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe is also juggling politics and motherhood. The NDP candidate in Pierrefonds-Dollard was first elected to parliament in 2011.
She splits her time between Ottawa and her West Island riding.
Her husband is the primary caregiver for their one-year-old son, Evan.
“I think I'm able to be a good mother and a good Member of Parliament at the same time. I would certainly not be able to do that without a very helpful and understanding husband,” she said.
There are the obvious challenges.
“I started back working part-time three weeks after I delivered, so it was quite quick for us to get in the routine of working, sleeping, breastfeeding, travelling, all that together,” she said.
Then, there was the experience on Parliament Hill that nothing could have prepared her for, when Evan was just two months old, when shooter Michael Zehaf-Bibeau stormed Parliament Hill in October after killing a soldier at the National War Memorial.
“I was in a room breastfeeding and I was really near the shootings. I could smell the gunpowder. I heard the sounds and a colleague of mine were told me to hide,” she said.
She isn't breastfeeding anymore, so Evan spends more time with his father. That still means sometimes missing those moments every mother wants to see.
“He started to walk two weeks ago and I wasn't there for his first steps,” she said.
The choice she's made has been an eye-opener for others.
“We're often fed the narrative that young women have to choose either politics and their career or families, and in reality you can do both. You have to make sacrifices. Maybe you can't have it all, but you can do both and it's been really inspiring for me to see how successful she is as an MP and as a mother,” said NDP volunteer Lana Belber.
As Poirier campaigns to become a first-time MP, with an eight-year-old daughter and a newborn, she salutes other young mothers in politics.
“It needs to be possible, otherwise how can we have equal representation and proper representation in parliament, which is what we want,” she said.