Please tell us about your family.

Working for the community has always been important to our family. My grandfather, the late Rabbi David Feuerwerker z”l, was a rabbi in Paris. During the War, he fought against fascism in the French resistance, and after the War, became the Chief Chaplain of the French Navy. My grandmother, Antoinette Gluck Feuerwerker, also fought in the French resistance. After the war, my grandparents worked hard to rebuild the downtrodden Jewish community. In the end, my grandfather received great support and help from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, with whom he was in constant correspondence.

A family tradition says that gold bars to buy a ship to transport countless refugees to the Promised Land were hidden under my aunt’s baby cradle. My father, Dr. Gerard Étienne, who accepted Judaism, was expelled from his home country of Haiti for fighting against communism and for human rights.

I am happy to say that 18 years ago, two Lubavitcher rabbis held chupa for me in Montreal, which was a real blessing!

What influenced your decision to go into politics?

For many years I was involved in politics on a voluntary basis, and recently decided to take a more active position. My decision to become a candidate was influenced by the belief that, in my opinion, PM Trudeau was leading Canada in the wrong direction – from economic as well as domestic and foreign policy perspectives.

In your opinion, what personal qualities can contribute to the effective work of a Member of Parliament?

Speaking about me, I think that my experience in law enforcement (I used to be a police constable), journalism, and now in the field of immigration and business law at the York Center for the last 12 years, enabled me to acquire the necessary skills to become an effective Member of Parliament. I also believe that my upbringing based on different cultures (my father is an immigrant from Haiti who converted to Judaism, and my mother is an Ashkenazic Jew, also an immigrant who speaks several languages - English, Spanish and Creole) makes it easier for me to communicate with people in a multicultural country, especially given the huge number of immigrants in Canada.

Why did you decide to take up politics right now?

It seems to me that this decision has matured at the right moment in my life: On the one hand, I have matured and gathered extensive life, work and family experience, and on the other hand I am still young enough at 45 years old to serve energetically and effectively.

If you had the opportunity to make a “l’chaim” with any person in  history, who would you choose – and why?

I would like to meet our forefather Yaakov. He is my favorite hero. What a hard life he had! He had to flee from his brother who wanted him dead. His father-in-law made him work for 14 years to be with Rachel, the woman he loved. But she, after the birth of her second son, Binyamin, dies during her return journey to the Promised Land. Yaakov loses his beloved son Yosef and for many years believes he is dead. In his declining years, when he is forced to believe that he will also lose his second son from his beloved Rachel, he is forced to leave the country because of famine. Yet his faith was unshakable, he continued to live a G‑dly life. To me, this is the essence of Jewry!

How do you think you can be helpful to the Jewish community?

Recently, I took part in the rescue of the synagogue at the Associated Hebrew Day School - the developers who bought the plot where the school is located were going to close it. I arranged for them to donate land to us and help build a new synagogue. We always try to help the community. But with official status, we can do even more.

What are you planning to do as an elected official?

My priorities for our community are: Support for tax breaks for Jewish education; open a Canadian Embassy in Jerusalem; address the issue of violent crime; immigration reform, both fixing the delays in legal immigration and securing borders to percent illegal immigration; affordable education; foreign policy, especially in the Middle East and communist China; and economic development, specifically in the Downsview Park area. In addition, we must provide greater freedom of speech to religious organizations. Our religious leaders could do much more, but they are afraid to speak out for fear of losing their charitable tax status. This is unfair. Furthermore, hundreds of millions of dollars are spent annually by the government on mass media, while much less money is provided for charitable and public works. This is also unfair.