The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Most original Quebec campaign posters? This party wins, by a hair

  • Print

MONTREAL - Wrinkles, stray grey hairs and whiskers above a woman's upper lip aren't usually seen on campaign posters whose subjects are more than often made-up, coiffed and photo-shopped to cinematic perfection.

But Manon Masse and others in her party are taking a different approach.

The Quebec solidaire candidate wears a jean shirt in her poster photo and her hair is undone, loose strands roaming freely.

Then there's the facial hair, visible above her lips. The picture has drawn a hail of insults and one-liners on social media sites.

The community activist and mother of two, Masse says she wears her moustache proudly as a statement against "transphobia" — a fear of people who transgress traditional gender norms.

"We are politicians who are very different," said Masse, 49.

"We're not here to fit into heterosexual norms."

For the last 30 years Masse has fought for the rights of women, immigrants and members of the LGBT community. Last year she was aboard the Canadian ship carrying medical supplies to Gaza that tried and failed to break an Israeli blockade.

She is among the founding members of Quebec solidaire, which has feminism at the helm of its basic guiding principles.

The party's commitment to gender parity is so great that it has more leaders — two — than it has members in the legislature.

It refers to its female and male co-leaders as "co-spokespeople." One of them, Francoise David, was inducted into l'Ordre national du Quebec — the province's equivalent of the Order of Canada — for her decades of work fighting poverty and violence against women. The other, physician Amir Khadir, is the party's only elected member.

The party touts itself as the only major one in Quebec to have acheived gender equality, with 62 male and 62 female candidates each running in the current election campaign.

Quebec solidaire also stands out because of its political marketing.

Its posters feature candidates dressed in plain clothes, they aren't airbrushed, and the candidates are peering to the left or right as if they were snapped candidly with a cellphone camera.

One marketing executive says this is Quebec solidaire's way of proving its authenticity. He calls it fitting for a left-leaning party that promises to do things differently, in a broader climate of voter disgust over corruption.

"Good advertising always comes from a real place," said David Rollert, vice-president of strategy and design for Pheromone, a digital marketing agency in Montreal.

"If your message isn't consistent with your reality, it won't work."

Ironically, Rollert says, this type of homemade-looking advertising probably took the most care and was most expensive to create — even more than those studio photos used by other parties.

He calls it a welcome change from the traditional candidate photos.

"They're so airbrushed they almost look embalmed," said Rollert.

Isabelle Perras, vice-president for the public relations firm Citizen Optimum, says Quebec solidaire's stripped-down strategy is particularly attractive to youth.

"It shows they are regular people, not just bankers or lawyers, (but) fighting for the people in the streets and government," said Perras.

"This is a very left-wing image not even the NDP used in their last campaign."

One Quebec solidaire candidate in Montreal's east end is hoping his party can bank on support from striking students and experience some of the luck the New Democratic Party had in the last federal election when it jumped from holding one seat to nearly 60 in Quebec.

"Maybe we won't get an orange wave, but we're hoping for at least a strong current," said Alexandre Leduc, a candidate in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve.

The marketing experts find the party's slogan — "Debout," which translates roughly as "Stand Up" — more arresting than its competitors.

"The other parties are saying 'Trust us, we're the grown-ups to fight corruption and keep the streets safe over here,'" Rollert said. "Whereas Quebec solidaire's slogan says, 'Hey you, pay attention, we need to shake things up and change things.'''

But will the original marketing campaign translate into new votes?

Neither Perras nor Rollert is quite convinced. "It's a little in your face," said Perras.

Added Rollert: "The purpose of a campaign is to win as many seats as possible. Whether this is the right strategy, I couldn't tell you."

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Opposition upset over more debt for Manitoba in 2015 budget

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Korea Veterans Association stained glass window at Deer Lodge Centre. Dedication with Minister of Veterans Affairs Dr. Rey Pagtakhan. March 12, 2003.
  • Jia Ping Lu practices tai chi in Assiniboine Park at the duck pond Thursday morning under the eye of a Canada goose  - See Bryksa 30 Day goose challenge Day 13- May 17, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


Should the August civic holiday be renamed to honour Terry Fox?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google