Liberal candidate works hard in Louis-Saint-Laurent

Photo: Sarah Barclay

Youri Rousseau in front of his campaign office on Boulevard de l’Auvergne.

Youri Rousseau greets visitors at his campaign headquarters with a genuine smile full of quiet enthusiasm. The same smile beams confidently from the election posters in the windows behind him, proudly proclaiming that Rousseau is Team Trudeau’s man in Louis-Saint-Laurent.

 Given that the Canadian Armed Forces veteran and father of two seeks to represent a unique riding that includes both CFB Valcartier and the Wendake First Nations reserve, it is just as well he does not shy away from questions about Liberal policy. 

Rousseau speaks about veterans’ rights from experience gained first-hand and in campaigning door-to-door. He passionately endorses Trudeau’s proposed support for veterans and their families, particularly the Veterans’ Education Benefit, which funds retraining for veterans in technical, college or university programs to help them get back into the workforce.

 Despite a clear, strong plan for veterans, many agree that Trudeau has done a poor job of communicating his vision regarding current Canadian deployments and the fight against ISIS. Here, Rousseau gladly restates the Liberal position: “We must beat ISIS. But Canada alone can’t do it. We need 50 or 60 countries to join in. Our position is that we should involve a full diplomatic core,” presumably allowing each country to play to its strengths. “We have to play a role where we have an edge, and Canada has an edge in humanitarian support, disaster relief, mentoring and training,” he explains, citing examples from his own experience as an Air Force major training the Afghan National Army. 

Regarding the Liberals’ promised investments in First Nations’ education and education infrastructure and their plan to launch a public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women, Rousseau points out that although these proposals will not likely have a direct impact on the Wendat people, they will affect the aboriginal community at large: “Wendake is one of the most successful First Nations communities. They are doing well, but many other communities aren’t. But [Wendake] cares about these communities.” 

On the subject of the so-called “middle class,” Rousseau, a student of economics, provides numbers and context. The middle class, he explains, is defined as the 3/5 of the population that fall between the richest fifth and the poorest fifth. In Quebec City, that means families earning $30,000-$100,000 per year. The Liberals’ proposals include income-tax breaks and a tax-free Child Benefit for the middle class. As Rousseau explains, this would have a direct impact on at least 80% of his riding. 

Louis-Saint-Laurent should be an interesting riding to watch in the coming weeks. With current NDP MP Alexandrine Latendresse choosing not to run a second time, the front runner is arguably Conservative star candidate Gérard Deltell. Rousseau, however, is undaunted. He speaks of a Tory party organizer who casually informed Rousseau that he had no chance of winning: “He told me, ‘Have fun, and maybe in four years you can start again, and people will appreciate you.’ I told him, ‘You know what? I just did my first 40-day campaign and I probably finished second. Now I’m starting my second campaign and I’ll finish first.’” 

 Rousseau, a soccer coach and hockey player, insists he’s at his best when he is against the ropes: “I’m a fighter. I’m going to get there and I’ll work very hard for it,” he claims. “If the people choose me as their member of parliament, I’m going to work very hard for them.”