Justin Trudeau, Liberal Party
The current MP for the Papineau riding, Justin Trudeau believes that the economy and democracy will be the two major issues of this campaign. Locally he hopes to gain support by making it a priority to be knowledgeable of the issues and accessible.
As the Liberal Youth critic, Trudeau says that he is pushing very hard for the development of a national youth policy. For him, a strong step toward that is the announcement of the Liberal’s Canadian Learning Passport, an initiative that offers Canadian university, college, or CEGEP students a thousand dollars annually over four years.
Trudeau says that he will also continue prioritizing fighting youth apathy in his politics.
“Young people are idealists and we need to reach out to that idealism in order to bring them into the political conversations and strengthen our capacity to actually address the big problems,” he said.
Vivian Barbot, Bloc Québécois
Barbot was elected the MP of Papineau riding in 2006. She served in various capacities for the party until elections in 2008, when Liberal Justin Trudeau won the riding. Barbot later became Vice President of the Bloc in 2009.
Apart from Bloc politics, Barbot has served as the general director for the la Fédération des femmes du Québec and as president of Fédération des enseignantes et enseignants de cégeps. Barbot worked as a language teacher; she is fluent in French, English, Haitian Creole and Spanish.
“We see the enthusiasm of people,” Barbot said after campaigning with Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe at Jean Talon market recently. “It’s a long time that we’ve had enough with the government of fear and I think that it is really necessary to do something.”
Barbot was born in Haiti and has worked closely with large Haitian community in Montreal. She is the first Haitian woman to be elected to Canadian Parliament.
Shama Chopra, Conservative
Chopra has been working in the public sector with various community organizations for thirty years.
“Prime Minister Harper has shown a lot of confidence in cultural communities. The Conservative Party and Mr. Harper asked me to run for this riding and I took the challenge,” Chopra said, explaining how she became a candidate for the Conservatives.
She noted that she had not always been a supporter of the Conservatives.
“For the last 17 years I’ve been supporting the Liberals but they haven’t given us anything. They never offer us anything,” she said.
“There are great people in this riding [and] they need a lot of help. They need a worker and I really want to work for them,” Chopra said.
One of her plans if elected include giving 25 per cent of her salary towards causes such as providing basic items to new immigrants. Other issues Chopra plans to address include language learning and the plight of small businesses.
She described voter sentiment as being “energized,” and expressed her desire to use her candidacy to inspire women in the Indo-Canadian community.
“We need the women and the youth to come out and participate in politics, so here I am inspiring them and telling them to come out and vote this time,” she said.
Jeff Itcush, NDP
Mount Royal is one of the youngest ridings in Quebec. As a result, Jeff Itcush – the NDP candidate for the riding – is prioritizing the needs of young Canadians.
“I’m taking a lot of my orders from young people, and enjoying it immensely because they are on the cutting edge,” he said.
However, as well as being a youth driven riding, Itcush emphasized that Mount Royal is also a very pluralistic community, home to many new Canadians. As a result, the integration of cultural communities into the job market and the streamlining of a more humane immigration system are all high on Itcush’s list of priorities.
For Itcush, one of the biggest issues facing young people is the decreasing accessibility to education as a result of tuition hikes. Itcush and the NDP are proposing the reinstatement of federal transfer payments, cut under the Chrétien government, as a solution to this problem.
“The shortfall in revenues for the universities is coming as a result in part, and to a large part in the reduction of those transfer payments,” he said.
“You also have to keep in mind that the NDP has really campaigned for the reduction of tuition fees,” he added.
Irwin Cotler, Liberal
Cotler, an internationally known human rights lawyer and former McGill Law Professor, was first elected in Mont Royal in 1999, and served as Canada’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General between 2003 and 2006.
Cotler said his priorities reflected those of his riding. He explained his practice of holding “open mic nights” to consult his constituents and garner their feedback on issues.
Cotler explained the objectives of the new Liberal Canadian Learning Passport.
“We want to reduce barriers. The overall objective is to build the best-educated and most highly skilled work force in world. It’s part of a larger strategy,” he said.
Cotler also said that taxes would not be levied as a result.
“When you’ve got $15 billion going to mega prisons, or you’ve got $30 billion going for untendered Stealth 130 fighters, the $1 billion is very easy to find,” he added.
Cotler said he was disappointed by the lack of accountability on the part of the Conservatives. He plans to “help restore integrity to Parliament.”
“We would bring better ethics and governance.”
WESTMOUNT – VILLE-MARIE
Marc Garneau, Liberal
Marc Garneau, the Liberal critic for Industry, Science and Technology, is running for re-election in the Westmount–Ville-Marie riding.
Nationally, Garneau wants to focus social programs with an emphasis on education and environmental sustainability.
“The Canada of tomorrow has to be as educated as possible,” he said. “I have a commitment that Canada should take its responsibility…I’m a committed environmentalist.”
Garneau highlighted the importance of having healthy infrastructure in the Westmount–Ville-Marie riding. Although he acknowledged that infrastructure is largely a municipal responsibility, he emphasized the need for proper federal funding in this area.
Locally, the emphasis is also on preserving the unique aspects of the riding, including its universities, research hospital and cultural community.
“It’s a vibrant cultural community,” he said. “Whether it’s painting and sculpture, or writers, or dance or music … we have to support our arts.”
Joanne Corbeil, NDP
In an email to The Daily, Corbeil explained the NDP’s platform as “a financial ease on everyone’s wallet” and an increase in “front line health care.” She pointed specifically to students, families, and small businesses as being the main beneficiaries of the platform.
“I want to support local initiatives and find ways for local groups to take full advantage of federal programs, which are not always known, understood or easy to find.”
Speaking to student tuition increases, she stated, “Education is key to ensure the future of our country. If students must deal with financial problems over and above spending over 12 hours a day studying, our future is seriously jeopardized.”
Corbeil said she plans to keep her constituents up-to-date on all her campaign activities, giving them as much face-time as possible.
Regarding the opposition, Corbeil addressed Prime Minister Harper and Liberal candidate for Westmount–Ville-Marie, Marc Garneau, in turn.
“Our country needs a unifying leader, not a leader who divides the country with fear. Also, the motion of non-confidence clearly shows that [Harper] doesn’t have much respect for our democratic institutions.”
Referencing a Globe and Mail article from March 7, Corbeil pointed out, “Among the top ten MPs from Quebec who missed the most votes in the House of Commons, you find… PLC’s Marc Garneau!”
Andrew Carkner, Green Party
Carkner attributed more serious sentiments toward voting to recent events in the Middle East, but said he does not think this will have a big impact on the election process.
“People come out, they vote, they use their voice and then, when the dust is settled, the government is exactly the same,” said Carkner.
Carkner pointed out several structural flaws in the voting system that were implemented by Harper in the last five years, including heightened secrecy laws. He explained the “true democracy” plank of the Party platform and reforms that are aiming to “bring back more democracy.”
The Green Party campaign has changed its campaign strategy since the 2008 elections, when Carkner says the strategy was to spread resources across the country.
This election the plan is to focus resources and have different party wings organize themselves independently. According to Carkner, the Green Party has “traditionally” been a phenomenon in English Canada and had trouble rendering their message to a French Canadian demographic.v
“Now that we have Quebeckers…running their own campaigns on issues that Quebeckers care about, we’re seeing much more understanding and much more support of the Green Party,” he said.
Véronique Roy, Bloc Québécois
Roy is a teacher representing the Bloc.
In regards to the toppling of the Harper government, Roy said, “To stay in power without the support of other parties – it makes no sense. … It’s not a question of the budget. It’s really a question of what has happened with the elected government.”
Regarding tuition hikes, Roy stated that the provincial issue was outside the jurisdiction of the federal Bloc.
However, she added that “the Bloc would like there to be financing of the education network and would also like the government to stop intervening in the jurisdictions that are not their own.”
Roy noted that the Bloc’s platform has facets that are applicable to any voter.
She highlighted immigration and refugee policies as examples of this, but did not dilute the sovereignist nature of the party.
“The Bloc is really the only party to defend Quebec’s interests at the federal level,” she said.
François Pilon, Green Party
The Green Party platform is consistent with the platform that the party ran with in the 2008 election. Pilon said that the ideas are not new in themselves, but pointed to their consistency as in line with what he believes is the need for a long-term philosophy to emerge within government.
“Every time there is an election the government itself is on stop for elections – and in the past four or five years it’s been three elections, so there isn’t much time to decide what is the best for the future and the future generation,” he said.
Pilon also emphasized the importance of getting young people involved in politics especially because it is young people who will end up paying for the consequences of decisions made now.
“What I would like to have is one or two candidates from the Green Party elected to be able to change a little bit the behaviour that is happening in the House of Commons,” he said.
Thomas Mulcair, NDP
Mulcair served as the Quebec Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks from 2003 to 2006 and was a Liberal representative to the Quebec National Assembly for 13 years. He has sat as the MP for the riding of Outremont since 2007.
Speaking to the problem of low voter turnout among a younger generation, Mulcair said that it is the “number one problem” with over 60 per cent of 18-25 year olds who did not vote in the 2008 elections. Though he noted that “the discourse of the NDP around sustainable development is something that connects a lot with younger people.”
Mulcair stated that pursuing the NDP’s agenda within the context of Quebec means engaging with issues traditionally associated with the Bloc.
“Our approach is that we want to create winning conditions for Canada within Quebec,” he said.
In response to the Liberals’ Canadian Student Passport, Mulcair was skeptical.
“The Liberals are not in a position to speak with any credibility with what they’ll do on post-secondary education,” he said. “They settled their budgetary problems on the backs of students across Canada. That’s the reality of the Liberal record.”
Martin Cauchon, Liberal Party
Martin Cauchon has returned to run as the Liberal candidate in the Outremont riding because he feels the Harper government is leading Canada in the wrong direction.
“We need to protect our country, our values, our social safety net. I believe that the government has a role to play in our nation,” he said. “The way they [the Conservatives] look at government is not the way that most Canadians look at government.”
Cauchon reiterated that the Liberal party was not interested in forming a coalition, and instead highlighted their ability as a centre party to balance the interests of a wide range of Canadians.
“If you want to stop Harper, I believe you should vote for the Liberal party. You should vote for the alternative. During this campaign our leader and our party will show that we are ready to go back in power,” he said.
Cauchon insisted that there is no one issue that defines the Outremont riding, but pointed to immigration as one overarching theme. Cauchon spoke of his desire to address the needs of students, seniors and individuals of all occupations.
Rodolphe Husny, Conservative
For Husny, education, infrastructure and the economy are top priorities for this election. As the Conservative Candidate for the Outremont riding since 2009, Husny is a strong advocate for youth engagement and social inclusion within Montreal.
According to Husny, a good example of the Conservative Party’s commitment to both the economy and education is Canada’s Action Plan, which has invested millions of dollars in upgrading infrastructure across university campuses.
“It’s really giving good infrastructure and good technology so that those students can have the skills to be as innovative as possible, so that when they join the workforce they are as efficient as possible,” he said.
While Husny sees this as an “unnecessary” election, he also feels that it’s a good opportunity for the Conservative’s to achieve a majority government.
“We shouldn’t be in election right now. We should be working, the ministers should be in Ottawa working to make sure that we continue this fragile recovery,” he said.
“I’ve been a candidate for nearly 19 months and people are fed up with an election…it’s time that we do what we think is best. I’ve been told by the people that is to focus on the economy, and that’s what the government wants to do,” he added.
The following candidates were contacted, but were not available for comment:
– Élise Daoust, Bloc Québecois, Outremont
– Garbriel Dumais, Bloc Québecois, Mont Royal
– Brian Sarwer-Foner, Green Party, Mont Royal
– Saulie Zajdel, Conservative, Mont Royal
– Marcos Tejada, NDP, Papineau
– Danny Polifroni, Green Party, Papineau