Annick Papillon encourages people to get out and vote

Annick papillon.jpg
Photo: House of Commons photo

Annick Papillon, MP for Quebec.

From her riding office in Saint-Roch, Annick Papillon can see hip offices of Quebec tech startups as well as gritty, low-rent apartments. The invisible line that runs through the neighbourhood, dividing Urban Outfitters from urban decay, is one of the elements that makes the riding of Quebec so unique and appealing to the NDP incumbent.

 “It’s a poutine; it’s very different from one part to the other,” smiles Papillon, who, as the federal MP for Quebec, made a point of getting out and meeting as many people as possible over the last four years. “You have to understand the very specific needs of each of those neighbourhoods,” she insists.

Her experience may give Papillon an edge over the other candidates in her riding; yet she is quick to point out the dangers of becoming complacent: “you cannot be totally safe because it depends, on October 19, if people are going to vote or not.”

 This sums up Papillon’s most important message to her constituents: Every eligible person must vote. However bipartisan her words may seem, Papillon admits that her intentions are strategic: “You know, when people go vote, there is less possibility of electing a conservative [government],” she explains.

 Regarding the Tory government, Papillon does not mince words. She explains how the NDP’s platform is in large part a reaction to the Conservatives’ cuts to healthcare and the Canada Pension Plan. However, she is particularly critical of Harper’s refusal to consult with provincial governments in making said cuts: “It’s about time we have a real partner in Ottawa … that’s something that would change,” insists Papillon.  

As the opposition’s deputy critic for small business, tourism, and consumer affairs, Annick Papillon is an obvious proponent of the NDP’s plan to invest in innovation and lower the tax rate for small businesses from 11% to 9%: “Small businesses are really running this economy; they’re really important in this country, not only here in Quebec City…. It’s these small measures that really help,” she claims. 

Papillon is also vocal about developing the tourism industry. In fact, she presented a motion for a national tourism strategy last June, something she intends to see through if she is granted a second mandate: “It’s local jobs,” she explains, noting that tourism is one of the few sectors that cannot be outsourced, “It’s real jobs for us.”

 As the former deputy critic for veterans under Jack Layton, Annick Papillon only spent a year working with veterans’ groups in an official capacity, but their cause remains close to her heart: “I’ve learned one thing with this job: I believe that we do not care enough for those who serve our country,” she says, visibly moved. Papillon describes her experience starting a committee for veterans’ health, changing the dialogue from war anniversaries to access to resources. In the process, she decried the Tories’ cuts and unspent veterans’ affairs budget.

 Papillon’s frustration with the current government gives way to her belief that the New Democrats under Mulcair would be a positive force, given the chance to lead: “Tom Mulcair’s been waiting for that job for 30 years,” she claims, highlighting his achievements as a lawyer, civil servant and environment minister. 

Papillon looks at the mustachioed face on a 2011 election poster that still hangs on her wall. “Jack Layton gave us the passion, the desire to change Ottawa, to believe,” she beams, “and Tom Mulcair is doing everything possible to make sure we can achieve that.”