Nathalie Sinclair-Desgagne, Bloc MP and new mom, ready for first foray into federal politics
TORONTO -- As a new MP in the House of Commons, Nathalie Sinclair-Desgagne has had a busy few weeks learning the ins and outs of the new job.
Tack on that she had a baby boy just days before the election -- her first child -- and the fall of 2021 has proven to be a whirlwind for the 33-year-old representative for Terrebonne, Que., north of Montreal.
“It was pretty stressful, and on the other hand, I didn't pick the date of the election and neither did I pick the date where he would come out,” she said in a recent interview by video chat. “When it did happen, of course it's overwhelming to learn how to be an MP at the same time as you're learning how to be a mother, but at the same time, it's something that I got along with.”
While tending to a newborn baby, Sinclair-Desgagne won the seat for the Bloc Quebecois with 41.1 per cent of the vote. Sinclair-Desgagne had taken over as the Bloc representative for Terrebonne from incumbent MP Michel Boudrias, who ran as an independent in 2021.
In what has been a busy few months, Sinclair-Desgagne added that the internal pressure is on to prove that she can handle being an MP and a new mom at the same time.
“What I really want to avoid is to do both in a poor way,” she said. “I'm focusing on trying to be a really good MP and learning the tricks of it while also learning to be a mother, but it's so far so good. I'm lucky I have a really good baby.”
Sinclair-Desgagneis one of the 50 rookie MPs elected in the 2021 federal election. CTVNews.ca is profiling five -- one from each party with a seat in the Commons -- in the lead-up to the first sitting day of the 44th Parliament.
Beginning at a young age, Sinclair-Desgagne was interested in politics. Her grandfather ran for the provincial Parti Quebecois in the 1970s, and she also founded the sovereigntist cell at McGill University while working towards an economics degree.
After McGill, Sinclair-Desgagne went to Oxford University to study for a masters in Environmental Change and Management, before working at PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte.
“I worked a few years in Europe before coming back to Montreal and when I came back, I realized it was already a different Montreal that I left 10 years later, and I started feeling that I had to be more involved,” she said. “I had to contribute more to my community, and there were some changes that I would like to be part of.”
Newly-elected Bloc Quebecois member of Parliament Nathalie Sinclair Desgagne joins Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet as they hold a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Before joining federal politics, Sinclair-Desgagne worked for the City of Montreal as a senior economic advisor. In a statement, the City of Montreal said Sinclair-Desgagne had a hand in achieving its “ambitious environmental goals” by “rethinking Montreal's tax and pricing system” to help with the city’s climate plan.
“She worked with a diverse team (engineers, architects, biologists, sociologists, etc.) committed to the ecological transition,” a spokesperson for the city said in an email, translated from French.
One of Sinclair-Desgagne’s files in the House of Commons concerns pandemic programs. She hopes to see these programs focused more on supporting small businesses, which she believes have had the opposite effect in some cases.
“One thing I'd like to see is more targeted initiatives and programs for entrepreneurs, for businesspeople. I think they've received a lot of help, but actually some of the help was counterproductive,” she said. “The wage subsidy is one thing, but then on the other hand, the individual help that some people are receiving is actually making the shortage of workers even worse.”
Sinclair-Desgagne joins a Bloc Quebecois caucus of 32 representatives, the same number compared to the 2019 election, but a significant increase since the 2015 election.
“As long as Quebec needs to have a voice in Ottawa, then I hope the Bloc does well and I think right now the Bloc is doing well because they feel like their voice is not being heard,” she said.
When it comes to her community, Sinclair-Desgagne hopes to put her economics background to use and grow the industry of Terrebonne, where about half of residents either work in business and finance, sales and services or the trades, according to Statistics Canada,
“I'm proud that I've been elected MP in Terrebonne and Terrebonne is actually a constituency that's full of entrepreneurs and business people,” she said. “If I can continue with my background and I've worked a lot with businesses in the last 10 years. I've seen start ups to two multinationals and if I can help and contribute with my background, that's exactly what I want to do.”