This is a different and first of it’s kind article for the Dalhousie Business Review. On September 13th, a member of the DBR Editorial Board had the opportunity to sit down with the Member of Parliament for Fredericton, Matt DeCourcey. The conversation was vibrant, authentic, and insightful. We are grateful to Matt for the opportunity, and hope to produce more election related content for our readers as we get closer to the federal election
What is your favourite accomplishment of 4 years in government?
Matt DeCourcey: My favourite memory is in December of 2015 being at the airport when the first Syrian family arrived here in Fredericton. It was special to be there to see the looks on the faces of the young kids. One of the young boys would have been about 9 or 10 at the time, when asked him how he felt about being here he said he was excited and then he planned to become a bone doctor when he grew up. I’ve seen that family a number of times since and it remains, I think, one of the most important memories that I have of my time in office. It was a project that all Canadians took on together to help resettle the first twenty-five thousand Syrians, and now over 60,000 Syrians since late 2015. In Fredericton I was really proud that we welcomed more Syrians per capita than any other community in the country and I think it should remain a source of pride for our community and for our entire country.
How important is youth engagement in this coming election?
Matt DeCourcey: Youth engagement is something that I have been actively involved with in my educational leisure and professional experience ever since I was young. Ensuring that the priorities of young people are reflected in the platform commitments that our party puts out is something that I’m concerned about, is something I know the Prime Minister is concerned about, that our entire team is concerned about. We know that when we listen to young people and when we listen to the diversity of views that are there in our communities, our ability to enact policy that will strengthen Canada socially and economically is that much more reinforced.
What are the three main/most important issues facing (young people in) the maritime provinces?
Matt DeCourcey: I think young people care about our environmental stewardship and tackling climate change in a responsible way. I think young people care deeply about diversity and inclusion in our communities. New Brunswick is growing in leaps and bounds through immigration because of some of the policies that our government has put in place. I think young people more than anyone else are concerned with making sure that families who come from different parts of the world and their peers that they now get to go to school with are welcomed and included in the community, and in finding a place to call home. Thirdly, I think young people really care about mental health and I think that is reflected in a lot of the initiatives that are taking place in both the public school system and in our post-secondary institutions. To better understand and identify mental health challenges when they arrive and foster better mental health, and that is something that that our government has taken seriously and invested in significantly. We;ll continue to see young people lead the charge in fostering better more positive mental health in the community.
Why should young people vote Liberal Party in October?
Matt DeCourcey: Our party listens to young people. Our party enacts policy and make decisions that include the voices of young people. Our party takes climate change seriously. We’ve already acted and there are 50 new initiatives in place that weren’t there when we took government four years ago. We will continue to ensure that we build a strong economy; that we shift responsibly to a greener and cleaner economy that helps us meet our Paris climate change targets and helps ensure that young people can go to school, get an education; to move into a vibrant workforce.
You were the first out of many speakers here today to make land acknowledgements. Why is that important to you? Should more people be doing it?
Matt DeCourcey: Reconciliation is a process that we all need to participate in to ensure the strength of our entire country and to ensure that everybody in this place is included. Quite frankly, indigenous people were here for millennia ahead of settlers who came. Everyone who has come to this place since has come through immigration and we need to acknowledge that indigenous people welcomed us with the peace and friendship treaties that were signed. We also need to acknowledge that we’ve done a poor job of treating indigenous people with the equal human dignity that they deserve. And acknowledging that we were all welcomed here by them in the first place I think is an important part of advancing reconciliation. At the very least we have to acknowledge that this is their traditional unceded territory and then to recognize that historically there have been injustices done to indigenous people. Once we can do those things we have an opportunity to move forward in the spirit of reconciliation, friendship, and equality, and equal human dignity.
A few months ago you were on a panel talking about abortion (CTV PowerPlay). Is that an issue that has always been important to you?
Matt DeCourcey: This is a matter of human rights to me and while I respect people’s conscience rights, nobody has a right to impose their conscience on anyone else. A woman’s right to choose has been enshrined in Canadian law for 40 years, and I will always stand up to defend a woman’s right to choose. Quite frankly I think that the more we are able to empower women to make choices, not just about their own physical health, but about their economic ability, the stronger that this country will become.
What’s the one thing you don’t tell your staff enough?
Matt DeCourcey: (Laughs). Look I’m good at saying thank you to them but I’m probably not good at giving directions. I am fortunate that my staff can figure things out on their own because they don’t get great directions from me a whole lot (keeps laughing). I do thank them a lot though.
Last question. Election prediction? Liberal majority?
Matt DeCourcey: I won’t go on the record making a prediction, I will go on the record saying that I think we have a very strong record to bring to Canadians. I also think Canadians have an important choice of whether they want to continue to move forward to create economic prosperity for all, or do they want to return to policies that left thousands and thousands, quite frankly millions of Canadians behind.