Speaking solely in French, outgoing Quebec Premier Jean Charest and new Premier Pauline Marois turned the air blue with insults during a Montreal photo session, the whole time smiling and shaking hands in front of an almost totally English audience that believed the two were wishing each other well.
Marois opened the exchange by telling Charest to "Va jouer avec vous," which brought wild applause from all but bilingual CTV cameraman Claude Poissant who realized the new Premiere ministre du Quebec had just told Charest to "go play with yourself". Footage of the smiling but extremely barbed confrontation (YouTube "Quebec premier wishes outgoing rival "des plaines ouverties" ("open sores") in testy meeting"), shows the camera bobbing up and down for a few seconds and Poissant can clearly be heard laughing.
Marois, dressed in an almost regal lilac dress and feather dazzler, won a minority government in the recent election, while Jean Charest, in a slightly rumpled suit sans tie, has since resigned after not only losing the election but also his own seat. The two have name-called in the past but having an English audience not understanding the insults added hilarity to the four-minute photo op that has since gone viral.
After being told to go play with himself, Charest seemed taken aback for only a second before responding, "Vous hanches montrer que vous mangez trop de grignotines au fromage," which loosely translates into "Your hips show that you eat too many cheese doodles."
"C'est une perruque?" snapped back Marois ("Is that a wig?") still glad-handing for the flashing cameras, both the Quebec and Canadian flags in the background.
"Je vous souhaite selles que coulent," replied Charest, patting the hand of Marois in a seeming gesture of friendship. ("I hope you have runny bowel movements.")
"Moi et tons les autres sentir vos aisselles," responded Marois ("I and others smell your armpits.") before Charest made reference to Marois' "entrejambe malodorante" ("ham-smelling crotch") and then two political enemies broke their hand shake and stepped back from each other. For a brief second, reporters who understood the heated words thought the two might come to blows.
As aides rushed the stage, the two got in final words to each other and hand waves to the unknowing but enthusiastic audience.
"S'il vous plait donner a nos yeux une pause. Arreter de couper vos propres cheveux," smiled Charest. ("Please give our eyes a break. Stop cutting your own hair.")
"Vous etes traces de dera page sur les sous-vetements de l'histoire," said Marois before both politicians walked off the stage.
In response to media questions, audience member Henry O'Hallaran, a Montreal area high school teacher who says he speaks a bit ("une pooh") of French, says Marois was classy in congratulating Charest for being a great part of history.
The translation of Marois' parting words?
"You are skid marks on history's underwear."
Peter Mansbridge of CBC's The National says it was "incredibly funny but sad" that the English audience had no idea what was going on, and that the skirmish was "rude and unprofessional". Mansbridge did add an aside that "Marois bitch-slapped Charest all across the stage."
Reporting For The Lapine