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McGill alumnus, province’s youngest mayor, talks politics

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Recent McGill graduate Antoine Tardif is one of the youngest mayors in the country.

Last November, Tardif—a 23-year-old McGill Class of 2013 graduate—was elected as the mayor of Daveluyville, Québec. Daveluyville is a small town located 90 minutes away from Montreal in the Centre-du-Québec region, with a population of approximately 1,000 people.

At his election, the former political science and economics double major became the youngest mayor in Quebec, and one of youngest mayors in the country. Tardif grew up in Daveluyville and came to McGill to pursue his bachelor’s degree. He cites his experience at McGill as one of the reasons for his involvement in politics.

“I had a lot of Québécois politics classes,” Tardif said. “We had a guest speaker come in, who was the Directeur General des Elections du Quebec, and he told us that people who were studying political science […] should get involved in the next [round of municipal] elections that were coming up in November 2013. I had this in the back of my mind, that there was going to be a wind of change considering that there’s a lot of corruption, and voters are going to be happy to see new faces.”

As one of Canada’s youngest mayors, Tardif sees his election as part of a growing anti-corruption movement within Quebec society.

“[I came] in at 23 years old, coming right out of school, and being aware of the corruption that’s been going on and wanting to change things,” he said. “I haven’t experienced anything close to corruption [as mayor], so that’s good. I think this is a movement that is going around.”

According to Tardif, the transition from student to mayor has been smooth. He credits McGill’s rigorous academic expectations with giving him the stamina required to work as mayor.

“I can say that having studied at McGill for four years, [I’ve] learned how to be organized,” Tardif said. “At McGill, it’s all the best students. If you want to pull some good grades you definitely have to put a lot of work into your studies and be really organized. Since I came to office, I work from 8-5 and I have meetings at night. Doing a lot of hours doesn’t scare me. I know that if I want to be successful, I’ll need to put a lot of time into it.”

As mayor, Tardif is focusing on creating jobs within Daveluyville, aiming to retain the city’s youth.

“In small towns like mine, it’s been seen over the last decade or so that the young people go away for their studies and they don’t come back,” he said. “If we want the youth and students to be interested in staying here, then they have to have the right conditions and they have to have jobs.”

For example, over the next four years, the town will be looking to attract industries to its recently developed industrial park, a development project in collaboration with a neighbouring city.

“We’re working very hard with the city of Victoriaville on an industrial park that’s on the side of highway 20,” he said. “It’s been [built] now, and there can be around 15 companies that can set up there. In the next two or three years, we’re going to be working very hard to attract companies to our industrial park.”

Tardif shared some words of wisdom for students aspiring to go into politics.

“[Don’t] be scared and jump right into it,” he said. “Believe in yourself. If you have that flame in you that tells you to go, you should go.”