Collard brings experience as a government lawyer, school board trustee
This interview is part of our series of articles profiling the Ottawa-Vanier candidates in the upcoming provincial byelection on Feb. 27. Each candidate was asked the same set of questions for consistency. Answers have been edited for length and clarity.
The Fulcrum: What do you feel are your strongest quality or skill would be as an MPP?
Lucille Collard: My set of skills that are really relevant to the job of MPP is all the experience that I have acquired over the years. So of course, I’m not in student years, I’ve got a 35-year career. But I’ve got that political experience. That’s my first relevant experience. When I moved to Ottawa I was 19 years old, I worked for 10 years in the minister’s office and MP’s office, so I did get really relevant experience. My latest experience is as a school board trustee, so I’ve been elected three times as a school trustee. And I was also selected by the other school board trustee members, to become the vice-chair and then the chair of the board, so that shows my qualities of leadership because I was chosen to lead the board.
As a professional, I’ve worked 35 years for the government in different capacities, but in the last 20 years as a lawyer. I went back to school when I was an adult because I figured those skills would be relevant at some point. So I’ve been a lawyer for 20 years. Legal skills are relevant, especially if you’re going to make arguments. So all the analytical skills I acquired during my career as a lawyer are relevant. I have community experience that is very relevant — I’ve lived in the area for 35 years, I’ve got four kids, and as a school trustee (and as a chair of the board) I decided to invest myself with the community. So I worked a lot in building bridges between the communities and creating partnerships in the community.
The Fulcrum: How do your background and past experiences make you qualified to be an MPP?
LC: Well, I guess I gave a lot of that answer in the first question. I think my legal experience, political and community experience is pretty much a wrap in terms of what you need to be an MPP.
The Fulcrum: Why did you choose to run under your party?
LC: The Liberal Party, for me, is the balanced party. So it’s not far-right, it’s not far-left. It’s in the middle. It’s progressive socially and it’s also fiscally responsible. I think that we need a government, we need a party that shows it understands the evolution of society so we can push policy forward that will respond to what the society is about. I think we need to be fiscally responsible. If we’re investing in programs or in policy, we need to show that there is a concrete result at the end that we can show for it. It’s not just throwing money for throwing money, it’s actually showing that this is the objective we’re going to attain with investing money in that sector and this is how it’s going to make our world better and our province and our community better.
The Fulcrum: Adding onto that, why should voters support your party?
LC: Because the party is in a very good spot right now. It’s being reconstructed and as you know we’re in the race for a new leader. That means that there are conversations happening all throughout the province of Ontario, we’re meeting as many people as possible, so we’re getting a feel of what is important to people and I think this is going to make a very strong party. It’s building on what is important for the people, what their priorities are, what their interests are, and what challenges we need to address.
The Fulcrum: How do you plan on using provincial power to benefit people here in Ottawa-Vanier?
LC: Well, I think that using my legal skills and my experience, I’m going to be able to stand up against the (Progressive Conservative) government and then bring up actual evidence that we have here in the riding on how negatively the policies that they’re putting forward are affecting the community here. Because I know the community so well, I’m able to give some concrete examples and I certainly intend to work with every level of government that I can. I’ll bring evidence and I’ll give it to them so that they have to take it into consideration. And if they don’t, then they’ll be accountable for not doing so.
The Fulcrum: How would you plan to address issues that affect young people and students who make up a sizable chunk of your riding?
LC: When the important issue is affordable housing, I think that affects students a lot. We know residences around here are not affordable for a student and it’s a struggle for a lot of people to find something that is suitable. I don’t think students should have to work to be able to study, I think education is too important to have to do without. It’s so important to concentrate on your studies, I think we need to find ways to help the students muddle through and make sure that they have time for their studies.
The Fulcrum: What is the biggest issue impacting people here in Ottawa-Vanier and how do you plan to address it?
LC: It’s also related to affordable housing, but poverty is a big issue. City council just passed a motion about the state of emergency that we have to address for the homeless and I think that’s very important. It is certainly a big, big challenge, and we need to work on a sustainable solution and we need to work with all levels of government to find rapidly some short term, but also longer-term solutions to that problem.
To address it, it’s working in collaboration. Collaboration is very important, and I don’t think any issue has jurisdictional limits. I think it’s very important that we work with the municipal, provincial and federal governments, and I’ve already established a really good relationship with city councillors. I work with our federal MP as well and we can discuss those issues and make plans and have a strategy to address these issues. If we are working all work together, we can actually draw more resources together to be able to make a difference.
The Fulcrum: Any final statements?
LC: I really want to encourage the students to engage in politics. I mean, I do realize that the democracy right now is not something that everybody’s proud of, and my goal is really to try to make it better. My ideal goal is that our youth are really proud of our democracy and that they are motivated to get involved. I do hope that everyone takes the opportunity to vote at this byelection and you can, even if you’re from Alberta, from Toronto, it doesn’t matter if you have an address here, you can actually vote, so people should know that all they need to bring to the poll is just proof, with their name and their address, showing that they live in the riding.
I hope people take advantage of it and I really want to, if I become the MPP, get the voice of the students out there more. I’d like to create a youth council where we can actually have young people come to the table because you have great ideas, I think you can be part of the solution, I think you have to be part of the solution. That’s really the dialogue that I would like to expand on because I got four kids. Some of them are your age, and I totally understand, we actually had a really long and great conversation last night about education and how we can make it better and I thought I had good ideas, but they had better ideas. So listening to the youth is just so important.
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