With a career of more than 20 years as a lawyer, María-Louise Torres-Piaggio is running for election under the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) banner for the riding of Westmount–St-Louis.
The Crime (LD): Can you tell us about your motivations and goals? Why are you interested in politics and why did you choose to run for the 2022 provincial election under the CAQ banner?
Maria-Louisa Torres-Piaggio (Montana): I have been involved in Coalition avenir Québec since 2011 because I believe in the vision, values and goals of this political party. I am of Italian-Peruvian descent and have lived in Quebec for 24 years. I have a law degree from a Peruvian university and hold a master’s degree in civil law and another in international law. During my 20-year career as a lawyer, I was a manager in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Peru, which allowed me to act as a diplomatic attaché for the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in Montreal. My political commitment is part of my desire to continue to introduce laws, regulations and programs that allow the people of Quebec to imagine a better future. We are a modern nationalist party whose primary goal is to ensure the development and prosperity of the Quebec nation in Canada while proudly defending its autonomy, language, values and culture.
LD: What would be your priority files and issues if elected?
MT: Promoting Quebec culture is a priority of the CAQ government. The figures speak for themselves: the budget of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec has been increased by more than 50% and that of the Société de développement des entreprises culturelle by 143%. Record sums! The second problem would be security. In recent years, Quebec has seen an increase in gun violence, particularly in the Montreal area. Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault has tackled this problem specifically by giving our police officers more resources to fight gun trafficking and criminal gangs. A third concern is helping the elderly. Too many older people are still forced to live in precarious conditions due to very low incomes. However, the latter can hardly increase their income to cope with the rising cost of living, which makes them particularly vulnerable. We are committed to increasing the amount of support for older people from the first year of a future term. This extra help will further protect the purchasing power of people on lower incomes. Quebec also has one of the lowest hospital capacities among comparable jurisdictions, with only two beds per 1,000 residents. The health network must look for innovative solutions to unblock hospitals. Hospitalization at home is one of them, because it allows to avoid admission or to free up a bed more quickly. But above all, it is an advantageous formula for the patient, because it allows him to be treated in the comfort of his home among his loved ones.
LD: Are there questions specific to McGill University that are bothering you?
MT: Yes, there are three specific issues that I undertake to consider if I am elected a representative of the people. First, the CAQ government wants to promote an integrated approach to higher education. Both CEGEPs and universities abound with potential that only needs to be better utilized for the benefit of teaching and research. We need to support our researchers, teachers and students to enable them to work in a stimulating and dynamic environment, free from intimidation and censorship, where their expertise will be recognized and valued. Let’s protect academic freedom! The promotion of the teaching of French is the second issue that concerns me. If French is what sets us apart, it is also what unites us. French is a source of pride, knowledge and beauty that we must take care of! It is imperative that students are better supported to master their language and to ensure their success at school and in the labor market. In a second term, the CAQ government intends to emphasize teaching French to young people. In Quebec, since the 1990s, Quebec studies have been in decline in our universities. This situation is gradually leading us to lose knowledge about Quebec, its history, its institutions, its problems, its peculiarities and its unique cultural identity in North America. We need to increase our support for Quebec’s university community by investing more in research and in particular Quebec studies.
“The health network must look for innovative solutions to unblock hospitals”
LD: The environment is one of the very important issues for students. What does CAQ offer to help the environment and the climate crisis?
MT: The fight against global warming requires increased use of green energies. This is a fantastic opportunity for Quebec, which has an abundance of hydroelectric resources. With its skilled workforce, hydroelectric power and other renewable energy sources such as wind power, biofuels, geothermal energy and green hydrogen, Quebec is on track to become a leader in the green economy. It’s important to remember that Quebec is the place in North America where we emit the least greenhouse gases per capita. To further reduce our emissions, we need to reduce our use of fossil fuels and increase the percentage of electricity in our economy. This is the goal of the Green Economy Plan. Quebec has set itself the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 37.5% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels and wants to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. These are ambitious goals, but realistic. To achieve them, CAQ relies on a reliable plan, supported by statistics and filled with concrete means. The latter will ensure a transition to carbon neutrality by supporting industries in their transformation and workers in their training. By replacing oil with the electricity we produce, Quebec will kill two birds with one stone.
LD: Your election platform specifies that “it is important to offer new better resources”, can you talk about these resources?
MT: As you know, Quebec is one of the places that receives the most immigrants in proportion to its population. However, the integration of immigration into the French reality of Quebec remains a challenge. We need a greater proportion of immigrants to be francophone, and a greater proportion of international students to attend francophone CEGEPs and universities in all our regions. In a second term, we will continue to negotiate with Ottawa to obtain all the necessary powers to accept and integrate immigrants, so that we can give them the means to learn the French language that they do not yet know. We will continue to work on the regionalization of immigration because it must contribute to the vitality of the entire territory of Quebec. That is why I want to work closely with the Ministrère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration, as well as with public organizations in the country, to offer newcomers more local resources, allowing them to quickly integrate into our society . In fact, if elected, I want to further support existing organizations and develop others in the riding of Westmount–Saint-Louis.