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Looking at 2023: MP Pascal Paradis enters the National Assembly

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Pascal Paradis became, on October 3, 2023, the first Parti Québécois MP to represent the riding of Jean-Talon, in Quebec. (Archive photo)

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Pascal Paradis became a deputy after the by-election in the Jean-Talon constituency which aroused passions. The elected official is the first, since the creation of the county in 1965, to have swung the vote in favor of the Parti Québécois (PQ). As the year 2023 ends, the host of Téléjournal Québec, Bruno Savard, met him to take stock of his arrival at the National Assembly.

Pascal Paradis: Every morning when I arrive here, I say to myself: this is extraordinary, this is my workplace. It’s a place steeped in history, the National Assembly is beautiful. The discussions that take place here have an impact on the lives of Quebecers. We try to imagine everything that was decided, what was discussed here over the decades. I consider myself truly privileged to be there to represent the people of Sainte-Foy and Sillery, the people of Jean-Talon's riding.

Pascal Paradis: I think I was there. And I think I'm where I wanted to be. I made a choice, a little over 20 years ago now, to leave the private practice of law in a large law firm because I wanted to use law as an instrument for change in a context of international solidarity with victims of serious human rights violations elsewhere in the world.

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It’s a continuation for me now to get involved with the people in my community. To have been elected is extraordinary. It is a privilege to be able to carry the voice of the citizens I met for weeks.

Pascal Paradis< /strong>: There is a political contest, but there is a way to play this contest, as you say, with confidence. I committed, in my swearing-in speech, to constantly remind myself that we can appeal to people's intelligence, that we can speak with nuance, that we can speak with nuance, we can recognize the good moves of other political groups, collaborate with them, we can constructively criticize the government's decisions with which we do not agree, but with the objective of advancing the public debate.

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MP Pascal Paradis (right) grants an interview to the host of Téléjournal Québec, Bruno Savard.

There are social networks that allow us to interact with citizens. Well, sure, like everyone today, I have trolls who insult me, but I also have people who comment on what I do in the National Assembly, what I do in Jean-Talon. One of the comments that pleases me the most is when someone says to me: Pascal, thank you for the explanation, for putting things into perspective, for explaining to us with nuance.

When I joined the Parti Québécois, this is also what attracted me a lot, from Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, from the Parti Québécois deputation, from the way of presenting messages. There is a way to name things, to identify the real issues and to do it in a constructive way. Yes, I understand that there is still a lot of criticism, there is disillusionment, but at the same time I see to what extent being an MP is a truly exceptional lever to help citizens and help build a better Quebec .

Pascal Paradis: If there's one thing I'm not afraid of, it's becoming jaded about these issues. Because it makes me feel good to do that. When we are shocked by injustice, by inequalities, one of the best remedies is to take action. The issues you are talking about are people who face inequality, injustice, the fact that they have no voice, that they are vulnerable. Helping these citizens appeals to me. This is what I want to do today in my life.

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Pascal Paradis, during the end of year interview he gave to the host of Téléjournal Québec, Bruno Savard.

Pascal Paradis: The mandate that I have been given for the moment is the fourth deputy of the third opposition and I have plenty of it. On October 3, I got up at 5am. I was at work. I hope people saw how hard we work. I don't think I've had a day off since the start of the election campaign.

Pascal Paradis: Well, I'm getting there. What I want to say is that I have plenty with the current mandate and that I will give everything to meet the demands of Jean-Talon's people. But it is certain that the Parti Québécois aspires to power. The party wants to regain power at the next election and we have a game plan, a constructive plan, to appeal to people's intelligence, to ask the right questions of the government, to put our finger on the right issues , to make proposals and to be the alternative to power more and more, during the time that we are going to be there.

Pascal Paradis: The answer is: well no, there is no promise of ministry, no promise of what can happen. We will have to win the general election which is coming in 2-3 years. We don't take anything for granted at all. We are the third opposition, so we will work very hard to present the best proposal to the voters.

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Pascal Paradis and Paul St-Pierre Plamondon celebrate the victory of the Parti Québécois in Jean-Talon.

Pascal Paradis: Currently, what is encouraging for us is that people seem to be telling us: you are doing a good job. […] You speak to us with intelligence, with nuance. We are here to follow our game plan and what I like is that people tell us that they see it and that they appreciate it.

Pascal Paradis: We must not underestimate the impact of the distortion of the electoral system. We did not have at all the number of deputies that we should have had due to the injustice of the electoral system. The Parti Québécois should have had many more deputies.

That said, the Parti Québécois is a party where women play an extremely important role. There are six women who are in charge of all the bodies of the Parti Québécois. Of course, in our search for future candidates for the next general elections, we will pay particular attention to these criteria, as we have always done at the Parti Québécois. It is still the party that has been at the forefront on these issues, and we want to continue to be so.

The Parti Québécois should have had many more deputies, including women, at the end of the general elections if it were not for this distortion.

Pascal Paradis: Well, that’s one of the injustices. I have no difficulty saying it. The Parti Québécois also mentioned it. It is clear that the Conservative Party is among the victims of this injustice, given the number of votes and the percentage of the vote they obtained. That there is no representation in the National Assembly is not normal.

No matter our political differences, if we are honest, nuanced, we must admit that the Conservative Party is among the victims of these distortions.

Pascal Paradis: I will continue my learning curve for the role of deputy. I would like to be wished, and I also wish myself, to constantly remain with both feet anchored in the reality of the lives of the people of Sainte-Foy and Sillery, of the Quebec region, of Quebec , because that's our role as MP. We are here to vote on laws, to discuss major national issues. We are here to ensure that people's lives are better tomorrow than today. To do this, you have to constantly say to yourself: I'm here for her, I'm here for him. That means we have to stay connected to what they tell us. It's a dialogue. We are here to explain, lead initiatives, but also to be the bearers of their voices.

This interview was conducted on November 20 2023. The comments have been edited for greater clarity when reading.

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