At 19 years and 11 months, Pierre-Luc Dusseault is the youngest person ever elected to Parliament.
One of several students elected Monday night as NDP candidates from Quebec, Mr. Dusseault broke the record previously held by Liberal Claude-André Lachance, who was elected in 1974 when he was 20 years and three months.
Below is an edited transcript of a Tuesday phone interview between The Globe and Mr. Dusseault. It has been translated from French.
Tell me the story of how you became a candidate.
I'm studying politics right now at the Université de Sherbrooke. I threw myself into the race knowing what I was getting into. My goal was victory. I knew I could win. I entered because I was always hearing people who wanted change, people who wanted to send a young person into politics. That's what encouraged me to run, to propose something new for the people of Sherbrooke.
Are you from Sherbrooke?
I was born near Granby, but I did my secondary and elementary school at Magog, near Sherbrooke, and now I'm at the Université de Sherbrooke.
So you just finished your first year?
Yes. I just finished my first year in political science.
What do you think will happen given that so many students were elected from Quebec? Do you think there will be time to study part-time?
No. I'm going to put that aside for now to concentrate full-time on my work. The people of Sherbrooke elected me to be their representative and I'll work full-time to represent them as best I can.
Do you have specific subject areas that you want to focus on?
Since I'm the youngest MP in this Parliament, it's clear that youth will be important for me, to be, if you like, the representative of all Canadian youth. That will cover education. It will be something that I will work on, like [Churchill NDP MP]Niki Ashton, who has already worked very hard on this. I'll work with her to try and advance those files.
What do you think is happening in Quebec? Because the relationship between Quebec and the rest of Canada is a very important part of the history of this country. What do you think the results for the Bloc Québécois mean?
What I've said throughout the campaign is that sovereignty, we know, won't happen in Ottawa. As long as Quebec hasn't decided, why not have a [federal] government in Quebec's image? NDP MPs are MPs that share the values of Quebeckers - social and progressive values. That's how I campaigned: As long as we're in Canada, why not have a government in Quebec's image?
Did you take a position on the future of Quebec?
As the NDP has said since the start of the campaign, we support Quebec and with our Sherbrooke Declaration, which respects Quebec's jurisdiction, including the right to pull out of programs with compensation. With nearly 60 NDP MPs from Quebec, Quebec will have important weight. We hope we will be able to defend Quebec.
Do you think Quebeckers are less interested in the sovereignty question now?
I couldn't say exactly, but it's clear that during the campaign, sovereignty didn't come up much. The Bloc talked about it; but when we talked with voters, they wanted to talk about health care, education, protecting pensions, families, workers. That's what was important in this campaign.
What are your predictions for a Parliament with a Conservative majority and an NDP Official Opposition?
It's not the best way to pursue our issues, with a majority Conservative government. With a left-leaning Opposition, it will lead to more left-right debates in Parliament, which is good for our democracy. We'll have to work hard to deliver results, but our slogan in Quebec was "working together" - so if that can produce results for people, we're ready to work with others to get results.
I don't know if you saw NDP Leader Jack Layton's press conference, but he was asked several questions about the lack of experience of some of his candidates. How do you respond?
It's clear that when you look at the Canadian population, it's made up of young people and older people. The NDP is a good mix that ensures our MPs are really a reflection of the population. We have people with a lot of experience and younger people, which means the population will feel better represented by us. That's the beauty of our party, the diversity of people.
How did the NDP know you were interested in the party?
Since I became a member of the NDP - almost two years ago - I've been involved in the party. I'm president of the riding association and president and co-founder of the NDP student group at the Université de Sherbrooke. So this was not my first experience with the party. I was able to see how it works over several years.