The mysterious illustrator behind a popular political cartoon account on Twitter has revealed herself to be B.C. Legislature intern Zoé Duhaime.
Duhaime, who was Victoria’s Youth Poet Laureate in 2015, became more involved with the legislature this year when she did several readings celebrating women in politics. She was then offered a position as a non-partisan intern, where her main role was preparing speeches.
“During my breaks I started sketching the people around me, and when I cam back from work one day my colleague said ‘oh, I have an idea for you!’” Duhaime said. They set up a Twitter account called @BCPoliPortraits, and soon the sketches got popular.
Duhaime said that she’d never really used Twitter before, and was surprised when people took notice.
“I never expected that cabinet members would respond to my crummy little drawings,” she laughed. “I don’t think I understood how close B.C. politicians are to Twitter.”
Duhaime drew portraits of politicians and media personnel (and would sometimes send them birthday greetings!), and also drew quick sketches alluding to events happening during meetings.
“I’ve actually really enjoyed it,” she said. “And I’ve been exploring the history of political cartoons, which I’ve never done before.”
Duhaime said one of her favourite parts of the account was listening to people talk to her about it, not knowing she was the doodler.
“It’s pretty cool walking the halls of legislature and have people discussing your project in front of you,” she said. “People I admire would guess wildly wrong, or pretend to be me.”
While it was all for fun, Duhaime later made an interesting personal realization: her father, who passed away in 2016, had conducted his own parliamentary pranks when he was an intern under the Mulroney office in Ottawa by writing a book exploring “the funny and great things” happening in parliament at the time.
“I guess it’s a tip of my hat to my dad,” she said. “It’s a delight to know that we crossed paths— I knew he wrote the book, but I didn’t know he did it during downtime on his internship.”
Now that the legislative sessions have wrapped up for the summer—and internship programs have come to an end—Duhaime thought it would be a good time to reveal her identity.
“It’s definitely not the same joke as being anonymous,” Duhaime said. “But now I have people asking me for portraits, so that’s fun.”
Duhaime isn’t sure she’ll keep up the doodles in the future, but she hasn’t dropped the idea entirely. She plans on moving to Montreal in the summer to work on a novel, but said that the new province offers many more people to doodle, including federal politicians in relatively close proximity.
“I thought it might be fun to draw people in the House of Commons” she said. “so you never know.”