Martin C. Barry
In a new development last week that took at least some local political observers by surprise, the Liberal Party of Canada announced that Annie Koutrakis, who is quite well-known in the greater Montreal Greek community, will be running for the Liberals in the Laval riding of Vimy in the Oct. 21 federal election.
The Laval News had the opportunity this week to touch base with Annie Koutrakis in an exclusive interview. Here are some of the things we asked along with her answers.
TLN: It was unfortunate but perhaps necessary from the party’s point of view that the previous Liberal MP in Vimy, Eva Nassif, could not run for a second term. What are your thoughts on this decision?
A.K.: I have not had the pleasure of meeting Mme. Nassif. Deciding to run for public office is a deeply personal decision and one that each person must decide for herself or himself. I sincerely wish Mme. Nassif and her family all the best in their future endeavours.
TLN: You are a VP, an assistant branch manager and a services advisor with the Raymond James Canada investment banking group in Montreal. As well, you have been president of the HCGM since mid-June. What other experience do you bring as a candidate to be Vimy’s next Member of Parliament?
A.K.: I truly believe that one’s ability to contribute in a meaningful way not only depends on one’s professional experience and accomplishments. Aside from being a Vice-President of a financial services firm, I am also a mother of two adult boys, a community member, and an engaged citizen. All my experiences have contributed to who I am today. While my professional experience has given me the ability to deal with complex issues, my other experiences have given me the ability to be compassionate, human, understanding, giving, and resourceful. I think that the people of Vimy want more than just a Member of Parliament that has a strong professional background. I think the people of Vimy expect a Member of Parliament who is able to understand their challenges, their hopes, and their dreams. I want to be that Member of Parliament that will listen, that will be compassionate, and that will help the people of Vimy move forward.
TLN: Do you have financial expertise (owing to your experience) that would be especially useful in a future Liberal government? How would you apply this expertise in terms of creating useful legislation?
A.K.: Again, I will bring all my experiences, including my financial expertise, to serve the people of Vimy. With any legislation, I would have one guiding objective: is this legislation beneficial to the people of Vimy.
TLN: Are you thoroughly bilingual in French and English (as this will be a necessity in a riding like Vimy)?
A.K.: I am thoroughly trilingual (French, English, and Greek). I would like to share something with the people of Vimy. The process to become a Liberal Party of Canada is rigorous, including a very detailed in-person interview in front of a committee. All my interviews with the Liberal Party of Canada for the candidacy were done in French.
TLN: What are three key issues in this election that you are telling voters in Vimy about?
A.K.: There are more than three key issues in this election campaign that I would like to share with the people of Vimy, but the three I would like to discuss here are: support for the middle-class, the environment, and the economy.
The Prime Minister has made support for middle-class families his number one priority. We understand that it’s not always easy for middle-class families to get ahead. Since the last election, the Liberal government has introduced many programs to support the middle-class including a more just Child Care Benefit program that is non-taxable, an affordable housing program, and a First-time Home Buyer program that can save hundreds of dollars a month for those first-time homebuyers who need that assistance. I will work hard to ensuring that the people of Vimy continue to have real and fair chances at success.
Another key issue is the environment. Like many people in Vimy, I am very concerned about the environment. The fact that the Harper government did nothing about the environment was extremely frustrating. The fact that the current Conservative Party continues to follow that same thinking is even more puzzling – not far from denying the existence of human driven global warming. Climate change is real, period. I will continue to work to reduce carbon emissions, reduce plastic pollution, and ensure that we leave future generations with an environment that is on the right track.
It goes without saying that a strong economy is at the core of a healthy and prosperous country. Over the last four years, the Liberal government has introduced a number of measures to help grow the economy including massive investments in infrastructure and technology, negotiating international trade agreements that better reflect the economic realities of today and the future, and taking measures to support small and medium sized businesses. This has resulted in the creation of one million jobs, record unemployment, a reduction in small business tax, and record foreign investment in Canada which is a sign of international confidence in the Canadian economy. I will work to continue on always improving the economic health of our great nation.
TLN: The NDP swept a large part of the Quebec electoral map in the 2011 election in the so-called Orange Crush. How would you describe their chances in the 2019 election?
A.K.: That’s a question you should ask the NDP. I think that this election will be about choosing between progress for the middle-class or a return to the Harper years. I think that the people of Vimy will choose going forward with a Liberal government.
TLN: Are there any special needs in the riding of Vimy that you see which need attention and which you could help to fix if elected?
A.K.: The riding of Vimy is a vibrant, strong, and wonderful place to live. I should know, I lived here for many years. But like other ridings across Canada, Vimy has unique challenges that need to be addressed. I look forward to listening and working with the people of Vimy, with the provincial and municipal elected officials, with the business community, and with community organizations in order to prioritize what challenges need to be acted on.
Who is Vimy Liberal candidate Annie Koutrakis?
Annie Koutrakis, the Liberal Party of Canada’s candidate in Vimy in the October election, is a financial services industry professional and community leader.
She was born and raised in Montreal. In addition to attending public elementary and high schools, she completed elementary and high school at Greek Saturday schools. She subsequently attended Dawson College where she successfully obtained a Diploma in Social Sciences/Business Administration, and eventually went on to complete courses towards a Certificate in Human Resources at Concordia University.
Koutrakis has also completed numerous financial industry courses. She has been in the full service stock brokerage investment business for 30 years, reaching the position of Vice President, Branch Manager, Advisor Services for a major financial services firm.
A fervent believer in volunteering, Koutrakis has given of her time as a volunteer for a number of community organizations. She was elected to the Board of CLSC Norman Bethune (now CLSC du Ruisseau-Papineau) in Laval, has served on the Board of Directors of Hellenic Social Services of Quebec, and was Vice President of the Parents Committee at École Démosthènes.
She has also been a member of the Alexandria Fundraising Committee in Laval, and is a member of the Board of the Hellenic Board of Trade of Montreal. As well, she has volunteered in municipal, provincial and federal elections in various roles.
Most recently, Koutrakis served as President, CEO and member of the Board of Directors of the Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal, the first woman to hold such a position in the 113-year history of the HCGM.
Annie is also the proud mother of two adult sons, and step-mother to two adult children, all four of whom are in their early 30s. Her spouse Gerry is a retired former executive and a dedicated community volunteer.