With a brief introduction to the history of the Quebec Legislature, as was described in Behind the Scenes in Quebec City, the OLIP Interns were ready to embark on a whirlwind introduction to Quebec politics by meeting various representatives of all the parties.
First on the list was M. Jean-Francois Lisee, Parti Quebecois MNA (Member of National Assembly) for Rosemont. M. Lisee shared with the interns his impressive professional experiences as a journalist in both Paris and Washington D.C., published author, and Executive Director of the International Study and Research Centre at the University of Montreal. Politically, M. Lisee has an equally enviable resume, serving as an advisor to Quebec Premiers and serving as Minister for International Relations, La Francophonie and External Trade. Now serving as critic for various ministries, the interns were fascinated to hear his opinions on current problems facing Quebec. His insights on the Quebec-Canada relationship were equally captivating and offered a unique perspective for us Ontarians!
Next, the interns met with Mr. David Birnbaum, Quebec Liberal Party MNA for D’Arcy-McGee. Elected in 2014, Mr. Birnbaum was able to share his unique experiences in the Quebec Legislature as the unofficial representative for the anglophone minority in Quebec. Working in previous capacities as director general of the Quebec English school Board Association, Mr. Birnbaum was able to provide an unparalleled insight into the relationship between anglophones and francophones in the province. Currently hosting a Quebec intern, equivalent to an OLIP-er, Mr. Birnbaum showed immense appreciation for the programme and had only words of encouragement for all of us as young people in politics.
Changing gears, the next MNA OLIP met with was the founder and Leader of the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ), M. Francois Legault as well as CAQ MNA Benoit Charrette. A relatively new party in Quebec, CAQ was formed by M. Legault and Charles Sirois in 2011. Using his business acuity as the co-founder of Air Transat, M. Legault was able to build the party and increase their number of seats from 19 to 22. Inspired by a new vision for Quebec M. Legault explained to the interns how he was unafraid to go from previous roles as Minister of Education and Minister of Health in PQ governments to create CAQ. M. Legault commitment to his vision for Quebec, serve as an example for the interns that hard work and dedication can amount to great success.
Final stop for the day was our meeting with M. Jean-Marc Fournier, Quebec Liberal Party MNA for St. Laurent and Government House Leader. As an MNA for over 10 years, M. Fournier has seen it all and worked in both opposition and government in various capacities. Sharing his political experience and deep understanding of Quebec’s political history, M. Fournier helped the interns better appreciate and draw a comparative understanding between the National Assembly and Queen’s Park.
Thank you to all the MNA’s who met with the OLIP Interns, all of our discussions were greatly appreciated and will not be soon forgotten!