Live on CBC as France Breathes a Sigh of Relief

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Last Sunday, I had a modest two-point agenda:

  • 2:00 p.m.: Breathing a sigh of relief at the likely victory of Macron when the French election result would be announced
  • 2:15 p.m.: Surviving a scheduled live interview with CBC

No wonder I didn’t sleep well on Saturday night. My typical Sunday goals are sourcing the best deal on string cheese for Mark’s lunchboxes and charging my Kindle.

Last week, a CBC journalist found the blog and emailed me to ask if it’d be willing to offer comments on the French presidential election. “Sure!” I typed.

My phone rang ten minutes later and I found myself explaining why I wouldn’t vote in this second round. I left Starbucks two minutes into the conversation because it felt hypocritical to rant against capitalism sitting inside the global coffee chain with dubious tax practices—pathetic, I know…

“So, do you want to join us live on Sunday to comment on the results at 2 p.m.?” she asked at the end of the call. I readily agreed as if it was the most usual thing in the world and a normal way for me to spend a Sunday afternoon. “After all, this presidential campaign was marked by exaggerated statements and blatant lies,” I rationalized. “I’ll just be yet another ignorant idiot on TV.”

I stuck with my decision and I refused to vote for Macron on Saturday, yet, mentally, I thanked my two friends who reluctantly did in order to block Le Pen’s road to power. Betray your beliefs but help saving democracy or take a big risk to make a point—there was no such thing as a perfect decision.

The strong “swallow your damn pride and vote for Macron!” campaign in France over the past two weeks surprised me. It almost felt like Le Pen’s score was an odd situation, an accident—but we did see it coming, didn’t we? The last-minute calls to “save the country” sounded hypocritical to me.

On Sunday morning, I grabbed an umbrella and headed to CBC’s studios on Queen Street. I left early enough to have the time to have a coffee and relax once I would be downtown. On the way, I answered CBC’s text message questions for the anchor’s script.

Around 1:00 p.m. (7:00 p.m. Paris time), I checked #RadioLondres to get around the ban on election reporting before the closure of the last polling station at 8:00 p.m. I sighed with relief reading the hilarious coded Tweets:

My phone beeped: “Quick update, your camera contact has changed.”

Oh, I have a camera contact now? Crazy Sunday…

I walked to CBC and I called the “camera contact” who let me in and took me to the “green room.” I watched the result live at 2:00 p.m.: Macron, 65.1% – Le Pen, 34.9%. In Paris, French flags were waved—Macron supporters, presumably, but for a second, the sea of blue-white-red flags made me uneasy because they are so often used in Front National meetings.

Le Pen’s final score made me wince—with 34.9%, the Front National will not disappear from the political landscape any time soon. I found it hard to cheer up and “celebrate” the election of a candidate so many French voted for because they had no choice to and didn’t truly support.

“Juliette… let’s go.”

I follow the camera guy who led me through the open-office maze of dividers to a desk. I sat there, the camera right on me. We set up the micro and audio system. “Hi Juliette!” I heard in the earpiece, over the live feed reporting on the floods situation. “We’ll be live after the break.”

The other French guest was in Montreal, the anchor was in Toronto and I was in Ottawa.

I focused on looking at the camera and we went live.

“You did fine!” the camera guy said at the end. “It’s really hard to express your opinion quickly, live on TV.”

“I… I think I’ll stick to writing,” I admitted.

I left the studio with mixed feelings. On a personal level, I was still quite honoured CBC, an iconic institution, had offered me the chance to express myself as a dual citizen—one more cool Canadian experience! From a broader perspective, I was sad to see how much support Le Pen and other far-right movements gained over the years.

Since the interview was live, I didn’t get to watch it until the CBC journalist who had contacted me shared a copy yesterday. Feng noted I sound nervous because I have a French accent. I think I have the deer-in-the-headlights look and as you can see, I do NOT master the North American art of talking and smiling at the same time. Also, I wish I looked prettier and I wish I had spoken better.

Whatever. Cool experience.

I need a break from politics now.

CBC visitor pass

Watching the election results live in the waiting room before the interview

No mirrors around… had to take a selfie to make sure I looked okay!


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. I think you look lovely, and you have a good “TV” voice. Next Juliette on CBC radio’s writers and company 😉
    It’s awesome that you got to do this interview though! And I thought that you put your point across really well.
    I share your fear for the future and the next presidential election. But I (ever the optimist) also hope that the Macron presidency will be good for France

    • It was a really cool experience but I’m much more comfortable behind a camera or even better, typing words on a keyboard 😀 Thank you, though. I never liked hearing my voice… I’m very used to seeing pictures of me (which is fair since I take pictures of people around me all the time) but voice… meh. Weird.

  2. when it come to voting, I never left the paper blank. I chose the best out of the worst…even its against my believe sometimes (we do vote a lot in my country, for local and national legislative members and since 2004, directly chose the president)
    And you look nice!
    btw, why are you against Macron? just asking…didn’t follow what really happen in your country.

    • I just felt I didn’t really have a voice in this election, that a blank ballot was the best way to express myself.

      I just feel Macron is another reiteration of the same neoliberal model who makes people poorer and caters to a few rich guys. I don’t hate him, I just don’t support him.

  3. Such a cool experience!!!!! Congrats! You were perfect. So weird to hear your voice after so many years reading you!
    I admire your courage to go live on tv.
    I agree with you. I think the législatives will be more interesting.

    • C’est marrant parce que je ne suis vraiment pas encartée dans un parti ni même vraiment super politisée. J’ai juste des moments où ça me parle…

  4. Martin Penwald on

    I was able to go voting, but I wasn’t able to vote for Macron. I can’t vote Le Pen either, so I voted blank.
    I’m very happy of it, especially since I heard a couple of hours ago the Macron’s candidate for our circonscription on Radio-Canada saying that people who have voted for Macron in the second turn have voted for his program.
    FUCK HIM!!
    Which is what Macron himself seems to have suggested during the two turns.

    • In my country, if you left the ballot paper blank…some of the trickies – highly seeking for power – candidate, would use them. though this practice could be minimize nowadays.
      it happened a lot decades ago.
      That is why I suggest my (INdonesia) friends to cast their vote.
      Nobody couldn’t use the paper for their own benefit.

      • Martin Penwald on

        Not sure I understand what you mean. Once I have voted, even a blank ballot, nobody can pretend to change it to whatever else.

        • Technically, I guess someone could tick a case for you, a fraud basically. Hard to do in France with our bulletin but I can see how it can happen in other country where you tick a box. If you don’ tick any, then your box may be ticked for you.

          • yes exactly. that is the situation. Happening here and there especially in remote area.
            Thank you for helping me 🙂

          • I understood what you meant because voting bulletin in France and Canada are very different 🙂 In Canada, you also tick a box. In France, you put a square of paper pre-printed with the name of the candidate you support in the envelope.

          • Martin Penwald on

            Ah, OK, I get it. Yeah, having to write on the ballot is completely absurd, as it permits fraud like Kiky noted, and it could be used to sell one’s vote too (complicated, but doable).
            The only reproach I can do to the French process is that there is no blank paper to put in the envelope, so if you want to vote blank, either you don’t put anything in the envelope, but when it drops in the box, the fact that the envelope is empty can be noticed (and it defeats vote’s secrecy), you find a piece of paper to balance correctly the envelope, or you write something on the ballot, which render it void.
            I forgot to take a pen, so I voted for Marine Macron by tearing the two ballots.

          • I had to read twice “I forgot to take a pen”, in franglais it sounded like you forget to take “Le Pen” 😆

      • Makes sense given the context. However, as much as I like to criticize France, I do believe the electoral process is globally fair and transparent so it’s very unlikely to happen here.

        • Martin Penwald on

          Indeed, it is a very well thought process enacted to guarantee a democratic vote. That’s why I’m really pissed when an elected official try to force an electronic system (No news of Lefebvre by the way).

          • Agreed, the system is pretty good as it is (minus the issue of blank ballot, both the logistic as you pointed out and counting them).

  5. Oh man, I can’t believe I missed this! If you find a video clip online, please post it, I’d love to see it. And good for you for braving it – I’ve been on CBC TV once and almost died of fright. But the BEST part was that they gave me 30 seconds of makeup before going on – I usually wear none – and I looked better than ever before. I want to hire that makeup lady to follow me around!

    Good to hear it was a good experience, I’m proud of you :).

    • Damn, I had no make-up! It was a quiet Sunday at CBC… you can see the clip, it’s at the bottom of the post.

      What were you interviewed about?

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