The Importance of Social Dialogue for Véronique Hivon


“When controversial issues arise in society, elected officials must be open to dialogue,” according to Véronique Hivon. The lawyer and former Parti Québécois MNA [Member of National Assembly] was recently interviewed on Éducaloi’s radio program Angle Droit. Me Hivon stated that she applied this principle of openness throughout her political career, including initiating a special parliamentary commission on dying with dignity in 2009.

Seeking consensus

When a sensitive topic is being debated in society, you shouldn’t try to keep a lid on the pot – or you risk it boiling over, according to Me Hivon. “The ideal is to provide a forum for discussion so that people feel their voices are being heard and the issue is being debated,” she explained.

That does not guarantee we’ll reach a consensus and change the law, but this dialogue is still important, she added.

Me Hivon gave the example of changes that were proposed after the adoption of the Act Respecting End-of-Life Care and its provisions regarding medical aid in dying.

“We had debates regarding advance requests from people who will eventually become incapacitated, such as someone with Alzheimer’s,” she explained. “We decided it would be a good idea to provide for this under very exceptional circumstances and within a strict framework. We discussed other situations as well, such as people with mental health challenges. A committee and the current minister concluded that there were too many unresolved questions and there was not a sufficient consensus to reopen the law.”

Beginner’s luck

When Me Hivon recalls all the steps leading to the adoption of the Act Respecting End-of-Life Care, she sometimes jokes that she “benefitted from beginner’s luck.”

“I had been in politics for less than a year when I presented the motion to create the special commission on dying with dignity. I had to prove myself, of course. There were skeptics, not just because I was new on the scene, but also because I favoured a new approach.

Convinced that it was essential to have faith in society’s “collective intelligence” and that the general public “wanted us to look at the issue of end-of-life and medical aid in dying,” Me Hivon took on this battle to ensure politicians assumed their responsibilities. “I went into politics precisely to show that, when sensitive issues and debates emerge, our role is to confront them – not to wait for the courts to rule while politicians remain frozen in place.

The Importance of Access to Justice

Me Hivon has been a member of Éducaloi’s Board of Directors since March 2023, and access to justice has long been important to her. Among other things, she served as opposition spokesperson on justice issues. Not surprisingly, Éducaloi’s invitation was an offer she couldn’t refuse!

“In my view, Éducaloi is the leader in terms of explaining the law in an understandable manner and having an impact on citizen education about the law. When I was an MNA, a week did not go by without me recommending citizens to visit the Éducaloi website. I am therefore delighted to contribute to this great organization in my post-political life. Éducaloi fills a critical gap in an extraordinarily effective way.”