Laval roots: Mille-Iles MNA Virginie Dufour

Thinks a “spark” is needed for the next PLQ leader

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for The Laval News

Upon arriving at the subject of gardening,
Virginie Dufour’s face lights up. She’s been
testing varieties of beans, onions, squashes,
melons and berries. Her garden boasts over
sixty tomato and pepper plants. This year’s
harvest was abundant in garlic, kohlrabi and
beets. Each has its preferred season and it’s
not always a success.

Mille-Îles Liberal MNA Virginie Dufour.

“The carrots were a disaster,” she said. “It’s
more for the pleasure of it.”
Dufour shares the fruits of her labour. “She’ll
come to the office and bring tomatoes and
cucumbers,” said Vincent Cammisano, her
political attaché. “She tries, but she doesn’t
have a lot of time.”
Sworn in as Liberal Party (PLQ) MNA for
Mille Îles in the fall of 2022, Dufour was also
named the official Opposition spokesperson
on municipal affairs, housing and the region
of Laval.

No stranger to politics
Dufour served eight years on the city of Laval’s
executive committee as councillor of SainteRose where she developed an expertise in urban
planning and the environment. A highlight of
her two consecutive mandates was ensuring
Laval’s financial commitment towards preserving the biodiversity of close to 600 hectares of
natural landscapes. She earned an MBA from
Université de Laval and was the first woman
to hold the presidency of the Association of
Quebec Urbanists between 2021 and 2023.
Massimo Iezzoni, General Manager of the
Communauté Metropolitaine de Montreal who
has worked with Dufour on various projects
expressed that she “knows her files very well.”
“She’s someone that I appreciate,” said Iezzoni.
“She has a great deal of expertise and knowledge
in planning and urban development.”
Dufour graduated from Saint-Francois’ Leblanc
High School in 1994 and moved back to the Laval
region after working in Chile for four years. She
was intrigued when an 18-year-old mayoral
candidate came in second place against Mayor
Vaillancourt in 2005. The longtime mayor’s
disregard for the environment rankled her.
“I told myself that surely we would be better off
with this young woman as mayor than [Mayor
Vaillancourt], who was authorizing the destruction of natural habitats.”
She began volunteering for the Mouvement
Lavallois party and eventually won the SaintRose district in 2013. She got 46 per cent of
the vote after duking it out with seven other
“I worked very hard going from door to door,”
she said. “I was campaigning with my stroller,
my youngest was one and a half and my oldest
was three.”
Some rocky moments
A year into her second mandate in 2018, no
less than nine city council members left the
party after the Mayor and leader of Mouvement
Lavallois, André Demers, was reported to have
an “autocratic leadership” style by his peers
according to an article in The Courrier de Laval.
Dufour was steadfast in her party allegiance and
a majority of the council members eventually
returned to the party.
In 2020 a recording surfaced prompting TVA
News to publish “embarrassing” allegations of
illegal campaign financing of around $200,
which Dufour vigorously denied. Quebec’s
Chief Electoral Officer spokesperson Julie
St-Arnaud confirmed that no charges were
ever laid against Dufour.
“I took a break, I was tired,” she said. “There
were a few scandals and it was difficult, then
with the pandemic and so on, it really got to me.”
Putting her expertise to use at
the National Assembly
According to fellow Liberal party MNA of
Chomedey, Sona Lakhoyan Olivier, Dufour
is a team player. She was impressed by her
colleague’s humility, in-depth understanding
of urban planning and ability to change the
opposing team’s mind.

Mille-Îles Liberal MNA Virginie Dufour.

“Even the [Minister of Municipal Affairs
Andrée Laforest] would stop the meeting and
say, ‘oh, I like that point, okay so maybe we’ll
change it,’” said Olivier, recounting a meeting
for amendments to Bill 16, An Act to amend the
Act respecting land use planning and development and other provisions. Dufour called on
her experience to inch forward on the matter
of public consultations despite limited leeway. She successfully convinced Coalition Avenir
Quebec (CAQ) to maintain the in-person public
consultation process for zoning changes, which
had been optional in the original version.
Dufour’s latest proposal was a bill to prevent
evictions for short term rentals like Airbnbs,
which was rejected by the CAQ majority this
Leadership needs a “spark”
The next PLQ leader is expected to be decided
upon in spring of 2025.
According to Dufour, the person will have
“impeccable command of the language of
Moliere” and will probably come from outside
the caucus.
“The leadership race is open to people from
all communities,” she said, “as long as they’re
able to create the spark needed to connect with
the regions.”
What’s next?
The trilingual French, English and Spanish
speaking politician is in the process of adding
German to her arsenal of languages.
Her gardening goals are already mapped out,
including harvesting her first kiwi. “I should
start getting some next year,” said Dufour.
One thing is for sure, her ambitions do not
extend to the leadership of Quebec’s Liberal
“What’s left after politics? It’s family and it’s
friends that you have to cherish. That’s why I
have no interest in being the party leader.