New Senator Victor Boudreau, Ally of French-Speaking Minorities

New Senator Victor Boudreau, Ally of French-Speaking Minorities
New Senator Victor Boudreau, Ally of French-Speaking Minorities

Victor Boudreau is preparing to enter the Senate. He believes that the causes he cares about, his dedication to the Francophonie and his political track record will guide the work he intends to do in his new role.

Marianne Dépelteau – Francopresse

On June 28, Victor Boudreau was appointed as an independent senator to represent New Brunswick.

He was a member and minister in the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly and interim leader of the Liberal Party. He then served as vice-president of the public affairs and marketing firm m5.

Since March 2023, he has been the Director General of the Town of Shediac.

This appointment fills all Senate seats in Atlantic Canada. The nine Senate seats currently vacant are in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Nunavut and Quebec.

Francopresse spoke with Victor Boudreau about his appointment and his aspirations.

Francopresse: In New Brunswick, you have been Minister of Finance, Economic Development, the Regional Development Corporation and Health, all portfolios that are particularly important for Francophones. What do you think your priorities will be for Francophones across Canada?

Victor Boudreau: As a representative of New Brunswick – the only bilingual province in Canada – and as a francophone Acadian senator, I have a duty to pay particular attention to all issues surrounding official languages, the Francophonie, Acadian and francophone culture outside Quebec. This is something I have always done throughout my career.
Francophones are a minority, so we must constantly be on the lookout to ensure that our rights and freedoms are protected. I will certainly continue to play this role in the Senate, but this time for the entire province, knowing also that it can have an impact on Francophone minorities elsewhere in Canada as well.

What do you say to those who fear that your liberal political background will influence your legislative work?

I think that those who know me and who have followed my political career know that I am not a blind partisan. I have always worked with other political parties when I was an MP and when I was a minister. I have always worked with people.
I consider myself a bit of a unifier. If the cause is good, we will rally together, we will work together to advance it.
I probably have as many Conservative, NDP and Green Party friends who have congratulated me since my appointment as I have former Liberal colleagues. I have always had that reputation. I think people who know me know that I will do my job fairly and clearly with everyone, regardless of political party.

You studied at the Université de Moncton. You are surely well aware of the difficulties faced by French-language post-secondary institutions outside Quebec. Do you believe in the need for a national post-secondary strategy, as requested by Franco-Ontarian Senator Lucie Moncion?

At first glance, it’s certainly not a bad idea. I’m not aware of the details, so I’m not going to give a very specific opinion. I’m still going to take the time to get my bearings, to get to know the files and the issues. It’s been six years since I was a politician in New Brunswick. I follow the news, but I had taken a step back.
The idea behind a strategy like that, I think it’s certainly important. We must continue to offer post-secondary education to francophones in Canada outside of Quebec, there’s no doubt about that.

Generally speaking, what issues are close to your heart?

To date, I have not wanted to comment on specific bills or issues, because I want to take the time to learn the role and functioning of the Senate.
But certainly, for me, in my career, social causes have always been important. A lot of the people I’ve represented in the legislature are seasonal workers, for example. Social issues like affordable housing, homelessness and the cost of living are all issues that have always been important to me.
Economic causes are also important, because they are the ones that pay for social programs. So we must always try to balance the two.
Also, being Acadian, it is certain that cultural and official language issues will be important to me.

Given your previous affiliation with the New Brunswick Liberal Party, how do you feel about being part of the Independent Senators Group?

Since 2016, all new senators have entered as independents, and groups have formed within the Senate over the years. To date, I have not chosen which group I will be part of. I still want to take the time to get to know these three groups, their representatives and their ideologies before deciding.
At some point, I will probably decide to join one of the three groups.

Acadian Senators

In an attempt to reduce partisanship in the upper chamber, Justin Trudeau announced that Liberal senators would no longer be affiliated with the Liberal Party of Canada. The Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) did not follow suit. In the Senate, in addition to senators affiliated with the CPC, there are non-affiliated senators as well as senators affiliated with the Independent Senators Group, the Canadian Senators Group or the Progressive Senate Group. And if a group of Acadian parliamentarians is formed, will you be part of it?

I didn’t know that a group of Acadian parliamentarians was being formed, but if so, I will definitely participate.

You were a member of the International Association of French-Speaking Parliamentarians. What did you get out of it?

I have never had the chance to play a very active role within this association, but I think it is still a good thing to exchange between international partners and between French-speaking partners, whether it is to learn best practices or to continue to promote different cultures.
I listen to these associations a lot and I just saw that there are several different ones in the Senate, so that will certainly be something to look at. […]
Here in New Brunswick, we have had the opportunity to host the Sommet de la francophonie and the Congrès mondial acadien on a few occasions. These international exchanges on the Francophone side are still very interesting and very important for the development of Acadia internationally.

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