Introduced by Olivia Batten, president of the Queen’s University Liberal Association, Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry François-Philippe Champagne spoke to a small gathering of students about life before politics and Canada’s standing in the world.
The event was held in the law building, and featured Minister Champagne, who met with university officials. This followed his announcement with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Mitchell Hall over the summer on electric vehicle battery manufacturing.
READ MORE: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes announcement at Queen’s
At the event, Champagne remarked about experiences he had applying to law school at Case Western Reserve University after his upbringing in Shawinigan, Quebec.
“I think three weeks after I applied, they called me and said you’re admitted […] I always wanted to study U.S. Law, and I was in disbelief when I was admitted,” Champagne said at the event.
Following his graduation, Champagne detailed his move to Italy where he worked as an unpaid intern for one year. This was followed by some more years of working in Italy, and stints in the UK and Switzerland.
Champagne said what brought him back to Canada—and eventually politics—was his love for people and building community. This was despite the fact, according to Champagne, the Shawinigan constituency had a Liberal Party riding association which had declining strength and financial backing.
At the event, Champagne discussed what he called “tectonic shifts” in the world. A large theme in the talk was the difference in democracies and autocracies which according to him are becoming more apparent in global politics.
“I think the biggest challenge is to make sure that we have resilient institutions, even south of our border. I was minister of Foreign Affairs, and I was watching the Capitol insurrection—I was the first Canadian official to tweet that we were in favour of democracy—it was surreal,” Champagne said.
Queen’s University Liberal Association members with minister Champagne. Photo: Erik Magnusson
Towards the end of the event, Champagne discussed initiatives the Government of Canada is undertaking to improve research, development, and scientific outcomes. An example he discussed was the COVID-19 vaccination plants being built and Canada’s electric vehicle development.
Students present at the event were able to ask the minister questions, one of which included the recent events in Iran. Champagne said it’s on the rest of the world to apply pressure on Iran and it’s up to young people to amplify the message of resistance.
In the end, Champagne believes people need to believe in themselves and take a chance.
“Be ambitious. We need to raise the level of ambition in Canada. We just need to be a bit more ambitious.”
Event, Liberal, Minister, on-campus, Queen’s Liberals
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