At work and play, meet Fabre MNA Alice Abou-Khalil

An avid enthusiast for physical activities, including bicycling and roller blading, Fabre CAQ MNA Alice Abou-Khalil says she needs the workouts to make up for all the sitting-down time spent at the Quebec National Assembly. (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Laval News)

She likes to bike or roller blade after long sessions in the National Assembly

In a wide-ranging interview a year after first being elected to the Quebec National Assembly, CAQ MNA for Fabre Alice Abou-Khalil told The Laval News she is on the verge of persuading the Legault government to build at least one new high school in Fabre to meet the needs of an expanding population that includes a large number of families.

Last October 3 marked the end of the first year since the 2022 provincial election. Laval’s voters decided that four out of six of the region’s National Assembly seats would go to Premier François Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec. In the meantime, a local deficit in local educational resources was just one of the needs identified by Abou-Khalil.

New high school needed

“In Fabre there is no école secondaire – there is no high-school,” Abou-Khalil pointed out during an interview last week at her Sainte-Dorothée constituency office, while noting that neither the French- or English-speaking communities currently have access to a high-school.

Although the number of children living in the riding falls just beneath a threshold that would be necessary to meet the education ministry’s requirements for a new high school, Abou-Khalil said that with demographic changes taking place now, the high school could become a reality by next year.

Pushing, but no promises

“I’m pushing for it,” she said. “But I can’t push if the student numbers are not there as required to build one. I’m not making any promises. But the discussions are there. We’re waiting for the right number of students to be able to attend these schools before we move forward and go on with the project.”

All things considered, however, it is more likely a French-language high school will be built first since the area’s linguistic demographics currently favour it. Abou-Khalil said many residents of Fabre she met since becoming their MNA have been urging her to build a new high school.

According to the riding’s current demographics, 65 per cent of residents are French-speaking, while 35 per cent claim a language other than French as their primary means of communication.

Roller blading is just one of several things Alice Abou-Khalil does to unwind after long sessions at the Quebec National Assembly. (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Laval News)

Biking, basketball and blading

With the busy schedule Alice Abou-Khalil keeps as an elected official, dividing herself between Quebec City and Laval, it’s truly a wonder she manages to find the time for the extensive amount of physical activity she makes a point of engaging in regularly.

An avid bicyclist, women’s basketball player and roller-blading enthusiast, she cycles daily to her riding office from her home in Chomedey. She thinks nothing of biking for several hours to travel from Laval to visit friends in Old Montreal or in Candiac across the St. Lawrence River on Montreal’s South Shore.

“Usually in the summer I mainly use my bike,” she said, while adding that she manages to cover these kinds of distances in a single day. Still, she finds or makes time for her family, while keeping up with her responsibilities as member of the National Assembly for Fabre. Abou-Khalil also likes to indulge in basketball. “I’m short, as you might be able to tell, but I’m a hell of a player,” she said.

Needs physical activity

While noting that one of the occupational hazards of being an MNA is that you spend a lot of time sitting in the National Assembly’s “Salon bleu” (the legislative chamber) or in commission hearings, she said that after sitting sometimes for four days straight “I need to make up for that time” through physical activities such as biking.

Although National Assembly members tend to be heard from mostly when a controversial issue arises, MNAs and their support staff are dealing more often with constituents’ problems, which may (among other things) involve immigration, disputes with provincial government ministries, or bureaucratic situations requiring intervention.

One recent and as yet unresolved issue involves a dispute between some residents in a small pocket of streets and Hydro Quebec. In a petition the residents submitted to Abou-Khalil, they claim the public electric power company has been systematically depriving them of electricity.

Hydro Quebec dispute

“Every time there’s a big outage, they are the last to be reconnected,” said Abou-Khalil, noting that Hydro Quebec’s policy is to bring larger pockets of customers back online following blackouts. Originally from Lebanon, Abou-Khalil is a single parent with two daughters.

She has an extensive professional background in computer network architecture, as well as surveillance and security, with companies like Telus, Videotron, National Bank, SNC-Lavalin and Desjardins. She is currently Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Cybersecurity and Digital Technology.