Gilles Arsenault plans run at Liberal nomination in Egmont

Wayne Thibodeau
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Gilles Arseanult speaks on Sunday against the provincial Liberals’ cuts to education during a rally in Charlottetown. On Monday, Arsenault announced he wants to seek the federal Liberal nomination in Egmont.

Gilles Arsenault has no intention to step aside as president of the Prince Edward Island Teachers’ Federation, even after announcing he will go after the Liberal nomination in Egmont.

Arsenault said he will hold on to his top job, representing the interest of Island teachers, until a nominating convention is held. That is expected to happen in November. If he is successful, he will then quit his role with the federation.

“There is no education portfolio at the federal level and we don’t negotiate with the federal government,” Arsenault told The Guardian.

Arsenault points to Sunday’s rally, in which he was critical of the provincial Liberals handing of the education file, as an example that he can continue to represent Island teachers while seeking the federal Liberal nomination in Egmont.

During that rally, Arsenault said the provincial Liberal government needs to stop balancing the budget on the backs of teachers and students.

“I think teachers are quite happy to see that it doesn’t matter what political colour, I need to do my job. I was elected by the membership to represent teachers and that’s what I will continue to fight for,” Arsenault said Monday.

Arsenault, 41, is the only candidate to declare for the nomination.

Gail Shea, a Conservative, is currently representing the riding of Egmont and sits in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet as fisheries minister.

In 2011, Arsenault was elected president of the P.E.I. Teachers’ Federation.

Before that, he was a teacher at Evangeline school. He holds a bachelor of education degree from Universite de Moncton, attended Moncton’s Law School for one year and holds a master’s degree in school administration.

Arsenault said he’s always had an interest in politics and has been involved with the Liberals since he was a young Liberal when Leonce Bernard represented the Evangeline region.

“I thought this would be a good way to try and make a difference.”

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s stand on abortion has not deterred Arsenault from seeking the Liberal nomination.

Trudeau is not backing down from his stand on abortion, saying his party members will be expected to vote pro-choice in the House of Commons, no matter their personal or religious beliefs.

“We all have our own religious and cultural beliefs, but I don’t think that we have the right to impose them on anyone,” said Arsenault.  

When asked if he’s pro-choice or pro-life, he said he wants to get more information on the issue from his party and his constituents.

Arsenault, who resides in Abram-Village with his wife, Leonie, and their three boys, said he can win Egmont for the Liberals.

“People are tired of the Harper government and if you vote for Gail (Shea) you’ll be voting directly for Harper.”

Organizations: The Guardian, P.E.I. Teachers, Evangeline school Universite de Moncton House of Commons

Geographic location: Egmont, Iceland, Moncton Evangeline Abram-Village

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Recent comments

  • Convictions: Cowardice or Courage?
    June 11, 2014 - 07:04

    So, after living in this world for 41 years Arsenault doesn't know his position on abortion and decriminalizing marihuana? Clearly, he believes equivocation is the prerequisite for politics. The only question left to be answered is: Do Islanders believe that too? Oh, and by the way, I hope a women doesn't choose to abort, but they ought to have the choice. And, as for marihuana? Give us a break, it should have been legal thirty years ago. However, nobody is paying me to work in the public sphere, so I have the right to keep my opinions private - the Gilles Arsenaults of our society do not.

  • EgmontTeacher
    June 10, 2014 - 20:38

    Gilles Arsenault is a another powerless figurehead as the President of the teachers' Federation. He is and was a puppet to the in house puppeteer who passes resolutions to protect their little kingdom. PEITF will never progress with the inadequate system they have in place now.A system that works for the executive, but no one else.Certainly not the teachers.

  • voter
    June 10, 2014 - 17:28

    the telling thing in all of this is that he is scared of government !!and is spreading fear ----he tells teachers to be quiet or the ghiz guys will get them --sounds like he has a good understanding of how the ghiz group works---------he says "come to the meeting but shut your mouth because i am scared of retaliation from the ghiz government!!!!"----what kind of people would support this guy ????????-----except young people who have a teaching position and rightfully are scared for their jobs!!!! -------------spreading fear !!!!!for sure

    June 10, 2014 - 09:41

    Seems he knows where the real money and benefits are.

  • The Liberals can have him!
    June 10, 2014 - 09:13

    Gilles Arsenault has to go!!! He has absolutely done nothing during his term as PEITF president! He did and said nothing; when the Ghiz Lieberals, like Caterine Callbeck did in 1994, broke a signed contract to gut the pensions of retired teachers. He instructed Island teachers not to criticize government in their latest move to cut teachers in primary grades. As far as I am concerned; the Liberals in Egmont can have him, and good ridence!!!

    • Garth Staples
      June 10, 2014 - 15:40

      I'm afraid as a defeated candidate he may return to PEITF!

  • Former BOG
    June 10, 2014 - 08:52

    I see the Tory hacks are out in full force. You can tell the Egmont Tories are scared when the knives come out this quick. I guess that is the way Stephen Harper operates. Anyone who can read can see Mr.Arsenault was at the rally standing up for teachers and did the same in numerous articles in the paper and in CBC even in the last month. Your comments are just not in line with the facts. If you are going to try throw dirt at least try a little harder and put a little but of truth in it. I say good luck Mr. Arsenault. I can see politics is a tough road to follow but don't listen to these Tory hacks that are obviously scared of you. You will make a great MP.

    • Island Boy
      June 10, 2014 - 09:44

      Former BOG. It might have been best if you stayed "former". Please detail the POSITIVE things Mr. Arsenault has done both as a Principal and as President PEI TF. I am afraid that you may have problems. The points he noted in his speech have been long identified and, one great reason they have not been corrected, is the lack of "push" by PEI TF.

    • oranges
      June 10, 2014 - 10:13

      Easy win for Tories unless we can get someone else.

    • What a comment!!!!
      June 10, 2014 - 10:17

      This Liberal hack must be deaf,dumb and blind to think that Arsenault will be a great MP! This also would be the first thing that Arsenault would be great at since he became president of the PEITF!!

    • oranges
      June 10, 2014 - 16:55

      It appears that the Formrt BOG must be a family relative or close friend. Being a justin liberalism i7 you must tow the line on the abortion issue .This will go over well on PEI. I can see 4 Tories after next election. Majority Islanders don't like Justin's position on abortion and marijuana laws.The Liberal candidates must tow Justins vision for Canada.

  • reality
    June 10, 2014 - 07:29

    TIME HAS DULLED YOUR MEMORY -!! the PEITF has always been a wet noodle that couldn't stand up for teachers rights !!-- Always very buddy buddy and even scared of the government !!!

    • No supporter of Shea, however . . .
      June 10, 2014 - 09:08

      I hope someone asks Arsenault not what positions he's held, but what he has actually done. What we're likely to hear is, "cricket, cricket, cricket . . . ".

  • Old Timer
    June 10, 2014 - 06:30

    Whatever is beneath a "low point" is where the PEITF is at the moment. Two decades ago, the Federation used to show leadership, both politically and pedagogically. Now, it's sycophantic relationship with whatever government has power belies its true purpose, which is to enhance personal agendas and do as little as possible. In this, we can rely on Gilles Arsenault to keep doing what he, and the organization, has done.

  • Jackofalltrades
    June 10, 2014 - 05:34

    If the teachers do not like or do not want him to keep his position and run for the Liberals at the same time, kick him out. He works for you and not the other way around.

    • don
      June 10, 2014 - 07:21

      ghiz will not allow this buddy to be forced out of his job and i'm sure the teachers are SCARED he will fire them or have them fired. as you know the parents in miscouche wants ghiz to act in there school but nothing is being done but family and friends of ghiz can not and will not be fired etc. when will you all realize that you gave ghiz the power and the bully will use it till you all wake up.

  • Taxpayer just like you
    June 10, 2014 - 05:22

    I see all the complaints and I agree whole heartedly that his use of the TF for personal reasons is beyond wrong,,,, however,,, who is stepping up?

  • God help us all
    June 09, 2014 - 20:32

    So we learn today that the president of the Teacher's Federation supports abortion and easier access to marijuana, no wonder we have such a great education system, if the members of the federation allow this guy to use his soapbox as their president to promote his political ambition we are all in trouble.

    • Chris S
      June 10, 2014 - 09:40

      So he supports personal choice and freedom. Good.

  • unbelievable
    June 09, 2014 - 20:15

    he sends out a news release from the office of the PEI Teachers Federation and uses the TF phone number as a contact number if you want to join his campaign, it must be great using other people's membership dues to run your personal campaign.

  • Justy
    June 09, 2014 - 19:11

    He needs to step down immediately. How can he represent us when he is in bed with the lie-berals!!!!In the staff room we were talking about how weak our PEITF has become since he has become president. He is just following his lie-berals friends and he could care less about us struggling in the classroom with little or no resources. He has got to go!!! He is not there for us!!

  • Dan
    June 09, 2014 - 18:41

    I thought it was pretty strange when he told teachers that their freedom of speech was somehow being arbitrarily suspended over the weekend. Now we know why. Talk about starting out your campaign on the wrong foot.

  • A teacher's view!
    June 09, 2014 - 18:22

    The Liberals in Egmont had better hope that Gilles Arsenault puts more effort into his nomination bid than he has put into his term as president of the PEITF; as he has to have been one of the worst PEITF presidents that I have ever seen during my teaching career! He has done done absolutely nothing when Ghiz cut the number of teachers, broke signed contracts affecting teacher pensions, and he told Island teachers in a signed letter not to criticize the Ghiz government during the protest at Province House today. He looked and sounded really confused on this evenings Compass, when he was asked how he felt about Justin Trudeau's position on abortion. Gail Shea must really hope that his little man wins the Liberal nomination in Egmont!!

  • Bleeding PEITF Pensioner
    June 09, 2014 - 17:43

    President Gilles brave stand against Ghiz and Wes gutting our pensions makes so much more sense now.

  • Bill Yeo
    June 09, 2014 - 17:31

    Obviously that is why he told his union members not to say anything critical of the provincial Liberal. Can you say conflict of interest?