Rookie Anglo MNA sets up shop

David Birnbaum
Angelica Montgomery/CJAD

When David Birnbaum started setting up his sunny first-floor office at the National Assembly, he sought out a Canadian flag to sit in the corner across from Quebec's Fleurdilisé.

Only, the National Assembly did not have enough Canadian flags to spare.

"Actually I got it from my federal counterpart, but I was very pleased to have the flag pole supplied by the National Assembly," he admits with a shy chuckle.

In the blue room, he sits at the very end of the chamber, underneath the journalists' viewing balcony and away from the cameras during most of question period.

And, while he may have met with seven of Quebec's past premiers and made presentations in the assembly in the past, work as an MNA is brand new. He has to travel back and forth from Quebec city every week, handle the files for his riding, and act as one of the premier's three parliamentary secretaries.

He's also the only rookie anglophone in an assembly where representation for the community has dropped from four MNAs to only three.

Though, he says the whole caucus makes that job easier, both for himself and his two counterparts, Geoff Kelley and Kathleen Weil.

"The kinds of things I need to bring forward are often being brought forward by others who are not part of our community, so I'm extremely optimistic."

French descriptions on commercial signs

Still, some members of that community are questioning why the Liberals chose to appeal a court ruling this spring that said businesses like Best Buy and Costco do not have to add French slogans to their signs.

Birnbaum says people should wait for the final ruling. "I've had a direct talk with the justice minister, Stéphanie Vallée, who confirms that there are questions of law in the decision that require an appeal so that there's some clarity."

And, there is the pesky matter of the Liberal's upcoming religious neutrality law, that some believe will introduce some level of discrimination for those who wear religious symbols and might hope to become police officers or judges.

"Will there be some legislation? The premier has said 'yes.'...Will it be legislation that puts at any risk the Quebec charter of rights and freedoms? No."

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