Lucie Charlebois ready for new challenges
Soulanges MNA nominated Assistant Whip
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.
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.”
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.”
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.