[LINK] "Canadian-born politician is first member of the French National Assembly"
The Globe and Mail's Carolyne Byrne reports on the election of a Canadian-born French/Canadian dual citizen, one Axelle Lemaire, as representative in the French National Assembly for the region of northern Europe.
MP Axelle Lemaire is the face of French President François Hollande’s Socialist party in London. And Helsinki. And Estonia. And a few other places, including one country she’s never visited.
“I try to represent the spirit of northern Europe,” the Canadian-born Ms. Lemaire explained, more than once, when asked to describe her role as the first member of the French National Assembly for north Europe.
The 38-year-old mother of two from what is now the city of Gatineau, Que., landed a seat at the heart of power in parliamentary elections in June, after voters replaced president Nicolas Sarkozy with the anti-austerity Mr. Hollande. Her post was created when the French constitution was changed in 2009 to create 11 Assembly members to represent the 1.6 million French living abroad.
As a long-time socialist activist, she was considered a long shot. “I thought most of French citizens [abroad] were rather more on [the] bourgeois, banking, professional sector side and therefore it was not a guaranteed Socialist seat,” said one of her former employers, Britain’s former minister for Europe Denis MacShane.
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Ms. Lemaire sees no contradiction in being a Socialist in a country dominated by conservative, Euro-skeptics or in working as an MP representing 10 countries but with a niche brief. She campaigned on improving French schools overseas, protecting the right to dual nationality (she retains her Canadian citizenship) and the recognition of French professional qualifications overseas.
“I’m meeting … with parents who send their children to French school who are concerned with the high fees,” Ms. Lemaire said when pressed for a practical example of how her Socialist ideals are utilized on the job. She also represents constituent views to Paris on matters such as immigration, justice and the economy, she said.