Lu­cie Char­le­bois rea­dy for new chal­lenges

Sou­langes MNA no­mi­na­ted As­sis­tant Whip

L'Etoile - - IN OTHER WORDS -

Of­fi­cial op­po­si­tion

When the new­ly elec­ted Na­tio­nal As­sem­bly convenes so­me­time next month, it will be the first time Lu­cie Char­le­bois, Liberal Par­ty of Que­bec MNA for the Sou­langes ri­ding, will sit as a mem­ber of the of­fi­cial op­po­si­tion since she was elec­ted in April 2003.

I“’m no lon­ger in the go­vern­ment, but it doesn’t mean I can’t de­fend is­sues im­por­tant to us,” she said last week du­ring an interview on how she will conti­nue to re­present the people in her ri­ding in the new ca­pa­ci­ty.

Of the his­to­ric Sept. 4, 2012 elec­tion that saw Que­bec elect its first fe­male pre­mier in PQ lea­der Pau­line Ma­rois, Char­le­bois says her par­ty re­cei­ved a mes­sage from Que­bec vo­ters. She feels the par­ty will conti­nue to re­build as it heads in­to the 1st Ses­sion of the 40th Le­gis­la­ture so­me­time bet­ween mid to late Oc­to­ber.

When as­ked about a cam­pai­gn stra­te­gy that in­clu­ded going door to door, Char­le­bois said it was so­me­thing she had al­ways done (this was her third re-elec­tion).

“Eve­ry cam­pai­gn, win­ter, spring, sum­mer, I go door to door. It’s cost me th­ree pairs of boots and a pair of run­ning shoes, but I’m ne­ver sure what will hap­pen. If you’re sure you’re going to win, you’ve got a pro­blem,” the MNA said.

Char­le­bois feels her re­pu­ta­tion as a straight shoo­ter stood her in good stead du­ring the elec­tion and hel­ped with what she cal­led some ques­tio­nable claims made by other can­di­dates. “The facts are the facts, you can’t change them,” she sta­ted.

The Sou­langes MNA says her role in the Na­tio­nal As­sem­bly will be dif­ferent in that she will have to pre­pare more for ques­tion per­iod. She ne­ver­the­less feels each mem­ber has an im­por­tant job to play.

“Since the elec­tion, I have been doing pre­sen­ta­tions in lo­cal schools about the role of go­vern­ment. No mat­ter if you’re in the ma­jo­ri­ty or mi­no­ri­ty, you have a job to do. I’m no lon­ger in go­vern­ment, but that doesn’t mean I can’t de­fend is­sues im­por­tant to us (in the ri­ding).”

Char­le­bois feels her past work will speak for it­self.

“I’m pret­ty sure the other go­vern­ment will de­fend our files cor­rect­ly. They will lis­ten to that,” she said.

Her conti­nued top prio­ri­ty along with Liberal Vau­dreuil MNA Yvon Mar­coux will be pu­shing for the re­gion’s first hos­pi­tal to be built by the an­ti­ci­pa­ted 2018 ope­ning date.

“We need it. I don’t think anyone can con­test that... We know eve­ry step that must be ta­ken.”

What she does not know is if (the PQ) will keep the same agenda out­li­ned by the Li­be­rals.

Ano­ther im­por­tant is­sue is con­ti­nuing to work with Mar­coux in ma­king the re­gion a tran­spor­ta­tion hub. “It’s im­por­tant to create the eco­no­my here ins­tead of On­ta­rio, lo­gis­tics tran­spor­ta­tion can create 18,000 jobs. The re­gion is so weal­thy for that... We can put goods on trucks, boats and trains and create dis­tri­bu­tion centres. When the eco­no­my is good, when people are wor­king we can pay for our health, our edu­ca­tion, our so­cial pro­grams. People can live qua­li­ty lives,” she no­ted.

Pro­po­sed changes

When as­ked about the PQ’s pro­po­sed changes to Bill 101, Char­le­bois was clear on her par­ty’s po­si­tion: “I think to ask adults not to go to col­lege at an an­glo­phone CE­GEP is not res­pec­ting what people want. Eve­ry­thing is in place to pro­tect the French lan­guage, but if you want to learn more than one lan­guage, it’s a good thing,” she said.

And Char­le­bois, who has ta­ken En­glish courses in the past few years to im­prove her own com­mu­ni­ca­tion abi­li­ties, says she sup­ports adop­ting in­cen­tives that would help people - fran­co­phone or an­glo­phone - im­prove their writ­ten and spo­ken French. She al­so feels go­vern­ment has no place dic­ta­ting what lan­guage people speak in the home. “At home, if you’re Russian you’re going to speak Russian. We can’t change that. In our ins­ti­tu­tions, we need to make sure French is pro­tec­ted, but that does not say we can’t res­pect other cultures... We have to do eve­ry­thing in our po­wer to pro­tect the French lan­guage, but we don’t have to see others as the ene­my.”

Jean Cha­rest

While she was not sur­pri­sed when Jean Cha­rest step­ped down as lea­der of the Liberal Par­ty of Que­bec, Char­le­bois said the mo­ment was ne­ver­the­less an emo- tio­nal one. “I lear­ned a lot from him, I will ne­ver for­get the chance he game me,” she said, ad­ding, “He left the par­ty in good shape. We are 50 re­pre­sen­ta­tives and we can thank him for that.”

The Sou­langes MNA was na­med as­sis­tant whip when the par­ty met last week with in­ter­im lea­der Jean-Marc Four­nier. Ha­ving done the job in the past, she knows it well but says it will be dif­ferent in op­po­si­tion.

Of the pen­ding lea­der­ship race in her par­ty, Char­le­bois says her role as as­sis­tant whip means she must re­main neu­tral.

“All of the can­di­dates are not de­cla­red and the dates are not being set now. There are some de­tails in the rules we must look in­to... My job is to make sure the team works to­ge­ther and is uni­fied du­ring this in­tense time.”

For now, she was loo­king for­ward to yes­ter­day’s swea­ring in ce­re­mo­ny, which she ad­mit­ted is “a spe­cial mo­ment eve­ry time.” She is al­so wai­ting to see what the PQ go­vern­ment is going to bring to the table.

“We have our prio­ri­ties. We’re going to do our job pro­per­ly. We’re going to be a good op­po­si­tion but not we’re not going to be op­po­sed to be op­po­sed. We will do our job with res­pect.”

PHOTOTHÈQUE

Lu­cie Char­le­bois, Liberal

MNA for the Sou­langes ri­ding, will sit as a mem­ber of the of­fi­cial op­po­si­tion for the first time since being elec­ted in April 2003.

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