Conversation with Jacques Daoust, new Verdun MNA

By Tracey Arial

Jacques Daoust, who joined the Liberal team five weeks ago, won the Verdun riding on Monday night with more than 15,000 votes. The riding had a 69% voter turnout.

Daoust, who is 66 years old, became a politician to help revive trust in the government from people in the business community. He joins Carlos Leitão and Martin Coiteau as part of a three-wise-men team Philippe Couillard chose to help fix the financial economic section.
“My connection is with the financial and business world. The other guys are more for the economy as such. That’s why I decided to do that. After 32 years, I suppose I have the experience. I’m not trying to be prime minister. I just want to be a good MNA and make sure that things are heading in the good direction.”

Daoust earned more than double the total votes in Verdun. His closest competitor, Lorraine Pintal from the Parti Quebecois got a little less than a quarter of the votes. CAQ candidate Benoit Richer got 12% and Quebec Solidaire candidate Rosa Pires got 10%.

In a recent interview, Daoust said that he believes in one class of Quebeckers and he wants that respect reflected in government. He says that his experiences on weekends and holidays creating a vineyard on his farm in Hemmingford where the French and English communities work well together prove to him that Quebec works best when everyone’s strengths are respected and valued.

He also has worked with and served many immigrants whom he admires. He tells the story about a woman on the board of the Laurentian Bank who described her early years in a labour camp in a Jewish community in Belgium.

“You can’t tell me that she’s any less a Quebecer than me,” he says. “She could have chosen anywhere in the world and she chose here. She’s as much of a Quebecer as I am… My Quebec is very inclusive. There are no two classes of cititzens—the unilingual French person and everyone else. You are a Quebecer. I am a Quebecer  Everyone is a Quebecker…There are native people of course, but the vast majority of Quebecer are sons and daughters of immigrants. It may be nine generations or three generations or very recent, but we are all immigrants.”

Now that he’s been elected, his first order of business will be updating the hospital where he was born.

At that time it was really top of the line,” he told me recently. “My mom said to my dad ‘I want to go to Verdun.’ It had dedicated people, you see. They still have dedicated people, but we don’t have an up-to-date facility. That needs to happen.”

Daoust lives in Verdun and says he loves his urban home because of the trees, the quiet and the easy accessibility to downtown Montreal. As a boater, he enjoys its location on the St. Lawrence River and the ready access citizens have to water, both for their own leisure and as a potential tourist incentive. He says that access must be protected and improved.

As a Nun’s Island resident, he also supports building a school and he’s also keen on making sure that the Verdun island and mainland get connected by a bridge.

I’m not an urbanist, so I’m not going to make a decision about where it’s going to go, but if you have a two-storey building, you have to make sure that there’s an emergency door. We don’t have that on Nun’s Island. If you have a heart attack at 4 p.m., you’re in trouble.”

He believes that a full-size bridge is too costly, but likes the idea of a single-vehicle structure that can be used for walking and cycling as well as allowing emergency vehicles to cross when necessary.

Daoust is also concerned about housing on the mainland. He says that without renovations, older buildings can be drafty; in too many cases, people are leaving Verdun rather than updating their homes.

We want to subsidize those who are renovating their houses,” he said. “That may be one way to keep Verduners in Verdun. We also need more rental apartments with three bedrooms because that will mean that people will stay here for a long time.”

Now that he’s in government, he’ll have lots of locals expecting him to make his visions come true.

If you want more information about Jacques Daoust, refer to his official bio or visit the campaign office at 4110 Wellington, Suite 100, Verdun, H4G 1V7, [514] 312-3031. He also has an active Facebook page. He also has a Twitter feed, but it has only one tweet so far.

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