Gilles Arsenault taking a run at Liberal nomination for Egmont

TC Media
Published on June 10, 2014

Gilles Arseanult speaks on Sunday against the provincial Liberals’ cuts to education during a rally in Charlottetown. On Monday, Arsenault announced he wants to seek the federal Liberal nomination in Egmont.

©Guardian photo by Brian McInnis

Gilles Arsenault has no intention to step aside as president of the Prince Edward Island Teachers’ Federation, even after announcing he will go after the Liberal nomination in Egmont.

Arsenault said he will hold on to his top job, representing the interest of Island teachers, until a nominating convention is held. That is expected to happen in November. If he is successful, he will then quit his role with the federation.

“There is no education portfolio at the federal level and we don’t negotiate with the federal government,” Arsenault told The Guardian.

Arsenault points to Sunday’s rally, in which he was critical of the provincial Liberals handing of the education file, as an example that he can continue to represent Island teachers while seeking the federal Liberal nomination in Egmont.

During that rally, Arsenault said the provincial Liberal government needs to stop balancing the budget on the backs of teachers and students.

“I think teachers are quite happy to see that it doesn’t matter what political colour, I need to do my job. I was elected by the membership to represent teachers and that’s what I will continue to fight for,” Arsenault said Monday.

Arsenault, 41, is the only candidate to declare for the nomination.

Gail Shea, a Conservative, is currently representing the riding of Egmont and sits in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet as fisheries minister.

In 2011, Arsenault was elected president of the P.E.I. Teachers’ Federation.

Before that, he was a teacher at Evangeline school. He holds a bachelor of education degree from Universite de Moncton, attended Moncton’s Law School for one year and holds a master’s degree in school administration.

Arsenault said he’s always had an interest in politics and has been involved with the Liberals since he was a young Liberal when Leonce Bernard represented the Evangeline region.

“I thought this would be a good way to try and make a difference.”

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s stand on abortion has not deterred Arsenault from seeking the Liberal nomination.

Trudeau is not backing down from his stand on abortion, saying his party members will be expected to vote pro-choice in the House of Commons, no matter their personal or religious beliefs.

“We all have our own religious and cultural beliefs, but I don’t think that we have the right to impose them on anyone,” said Arsenault.  

When asked if he’s pro-choice or pro-life, he said he wants to get more information on the issue from his party and his constituents.

Arsenault, who resides in Abram-Village with his wife, Leonie, and their three boys, said he can win Egmont for the Liberals.

“People are tired of the Harper government and if you vote for Gail (Shea) you’ll be voting directly for Harper.”