(Ottawa) Already the oldest elected member of the House of Commons since 2008, Bloc Québécois MP Louis Plamondon has just set a new record.
On November 27, he became the French-speaking Member of Parliament who sat the longest without interruption in Parliament: 36 years, 2 months and 25 days. He thus eclipsed the record of the former Liberal MP for Bonaventure Charles Marcil, who had been holding up since 1937.
First elected under the banner of the Progressive Conservative Party in 1984 before leaving the party to found the Bloc Québécois in 1990 with a handful of members disappointed with the failure of the Meech Lake constitutional accord, Mr. Plamondon has now another record in sight. He wants to become the longest-serving member of Parliament in Canadian history.
This feat (39 years, 6 months and 29 days) belongs to former Liberal minister Herb Gray. The feat earned him the title of “very honorable” upon his retirement in January 2002, a title that is reserved for the office of Prime Minister. It was awarded to her by then Governor General Adrienne Clarkson for her long career.
“It takes a bit of madness to do that,” laughs at the end of the line, Louis Plamondon, who is recognized for his great human qualities and his dedication to the people of his riding.
Louis Plamondon (third from the left) participated in the founding of the Bloc Québécois in 1990.
If the Bloc member wins his bet, the record for longevity in the Canadian Parliament would therefore paradoxically belong… to a sovereignist! Already having 11 terms to his credit, he shares the record for the most elections with former Liberal Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier. A 12 th mandate would allow it to exceed five English-speaking members who have served longer than he has since 1867. Among them is John Diefenbaker, a former prime minister, a close second behind Herb Gray (39 years, 4 months and 2 days).
77-year-old Mr. Plamondon has already confirmed that he will be a Bloc candidate in his riding of Bécancour ‑ Nicolet ‑ Saurel in the next election which, according to him, could take place in the spring.
If the next government has a majority, Mr. Plamondon would be sure to set a new record by completing his four-year term.
“I always tell myself that if Joe Biden was elected at 77 to lead the United States, I must be able to lead a county anyway! », Says the Bloc member, laughing.
Louis Plamondon had the good and difficult years of the Bloc Québécois. He has known many chefs too. He was one of the few members of his party to survive the orange wave of 2011 in Quebec.
What’s his secret? The proximity policy. Normally, he attends on average about ten ceremonies per week in his riding, especially on weekends. “I’m bored to death during the pandemic. I’m going in circles quite a bit! He said.
Louis Plamondon relies on the proximity policy.
“It’s important, the contact and proximity with people. You have to take an interest in people’s daily lives. Your office must become the platform for the claims of your constituents, your organizations, your business people. You have to be interested in people, their successes, their troubles and also, you have to be always available. ”
He also remains the “first in class” when it comes to raising money to finance his election campaigns.
We must not neglect to go on the ground. I never take a vacation and my phone number is in the phone book.
A handshake to an elderly person often translates into support for elections, he reminds neophytes. Another example: during Police Week, he sends a letter of appreciation to all the police officers. “I have exactly 344 police officers in my riding. He also sends a condolence card to all citizens who have lost a loved one. He sends a word of congratulations to those who achieve feats, even the youngest. “If a hockey club wins a tournament, you call the coach, ask for the names of the players and send a nice little certificate to the players. They take it home, the parents see it and I just touched the whole family, ”he says.
He returns all his calls flawlessly, responds personally to all letters and emails he receives. “My goal is to talk to at least 10 people a day, for five days. That’s 50 people a week, 2,500 people a year. After four years, that’s 10,000 people. And with the husband or the wife, that gives 20,000 people. It is often after talking to people that you will have their complete confidence. ”
With his long experience, he does not hesitate to take under his wing the young elected Bloc members.
When some ask him if it is better to challenge a minister in private to have a file unblocked or to hold a press conference, his response is always the same: “I always tell them: operation suckling first and operation blackmail. after, ”he says in his colorful language.
PHOTO ARCHIVES THE CANADIAN PRESS
The leader of the Bloc Québécois, Gilles Duceppe, campaigned among the employees of a factory in April 1997, alongside Louis Plamondon (between the two men).
In 36 years and a few months of parliamentary life, Louis Plamondon has seen the greats of this world in Ottawa: Ronald Reagan, François Mitterrand, Tony Blair, Barack Obama and so on. His most vivid memory remains his unexpected meeting with former South African President Nelson Mandela, who was finishing a tour of parliament an hour before giving a speech in the House of Commons, in September 1998.
“I was on my way to the House of Commons and I arrived right next to him. The guide introduced me to Mr. Mandela, but I was not able to speak to him. I froze stiff. This man’s face was so inspiring. Everything went through my mind, his 27 years in prison to demand democracy, his release, and he became president of his country. He represented peace, reconciliation. I’m telling you about it, and I still have tears in my eyes. He was so impressive. I will always remember it. “