Gilles Arsenault of Teachers' Fed. to seek Liberal nomination
Said decision has no implication on his work as president of P.E.I. Teachers' Federation
The president of the P.E.I. Teachers' Federation says he plans to seek the Liberal nomination in the federal riding of Egmont.
Gilles Arsenault said he has been thinking about it for some time but just made up his mind in the last two weeks.
Arsenault said his political aspirations have not affected the tone or approach he has taken towards provincial Liberal government policies in his role as president of the Teachers’ Federation.
The government has cut 32 teaching positions for the 2014-15 year, which brings the total number of positions eliminated over the past three years to more than 100.
Earlier this week, Arsenault sent a letter to members of the federation encouraging teachers to attend a rally against cuts to education. Arsenault said he believes the rally was a positive step in keeping pressure on the government to keep teaching jobs.
“We've been fighting for teachers, we’ve been fighting for the school system, we’ve been fighting for students, for their learning environment. And I think we have done a fabulous job and this political decision has had no implication on my work here as president of the federation," he said.
The P.E.I. Teachers’ Federation by-laws were changed during the last annual meeting to allow someone to stay on the executive or as president until they successfully receive a nomination to run for a federal political party.
Arsenault said he hopes to win the Liberal nomination for the federal riding and run against Conservative cabinet minister Gail Shea.
Arsenault said he spent time in Ottawa in the last three years with the Canadian Teachers’ Federation for Hill Day, an event that allows elected teacher leaders to communicate and discuss critical issues affecting education with federally elected officials and senior government advisers.
"That's something I became quite passionate about and feel that I can make a difference and I'd like to run for that position,” he said.
Arsenault was born in Abrams Village, in the Egmont riding, where he said he's lived all his life. He is a former teacher at Evangeline school.