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PEOPLE
Meet Senator Leo Housakos
February 27, 2016

Who inspired you to get involved in public life?

My father was my greatest inspiration to get involved in public life. It was always and still is my father’s belief that to those who much has been given, much is expected. My father, along with my mother, was an immigrant to this great country and both of my parents felt they owed a debt of gratitude for all this wonderful country has given them. I was brought up with the understanding that civic duty is an obligation.

I was also inspired by Parliamentarians that have come before me, such as former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

Photo of Senator Housakos with his parents

What do you think are the biggest public policy issues facing Canada today?

Wealth creation.

Why should more Canadians care about what happens in the Senate?

The Senate is an integral part of our Parliament.  We are here to defend and represent the interests of all Canadians, especially those who otherwise may not have a voice. As such, I encourage Canadians to engage with Senators and the Senate directly.

What legislative or committee work are you most proud of participating in to date?

I am very happy to be part of the work being done right now with my colleagues on the Sub-Committee on Communications.  We have been taking, and will continue to take, great strides in changing how we communicate with Canadians, whether through the media or directly.  We have updated our social media approach as well as our media relations approach. Overall, we are striving to be as forthcoming as possible with any and all information Canadians want to know about the Senate, whether proactively or when asked. Looking ahead, we will also be updating our website and Senators will be reaching out to Canadians through various events like visits to high schools and universities.

I was also very happy to be part of the work done by the Committee on Transport and Communications, and in particular our studies and reports on the public broadcaster, the CBC, and on Digital Canada.

What is a hidden gem in your region that more Canadians need to know about?

There are so many gems in my region, I encourage all Canadians to come and experience it firsthand!

I have to mention Schwartz’s Deli, which is far from hidden, but can’t be ignored!

On a more serious note, though Laval has many hidden gems, I think the city should be recognized for its system on autism response. It is the first autism responsive city in Canada, which means first responders and municipal employees are trained to recognize autism spectrum disorder in an individual, and are adequately prepared to deal with such individuals in case of emergencies.

Laval is also making significant progress in helping families of individuals with autism. The creation of a database of these families and individuals who require particular care has been proposed, which will be a great resource for the city’s first responders when dealing with emergencies. Municipal agencies and businesses are also working towards hiring individuals with autism.

Can you name a guilty pleasure song / album that always makes you smile and why?

I’m a classic rock kind of guy – I particularly enjoy the Beatles’ Let It Be.

Screenshot of Let it Be by the Beatles video

What is the last book you read or movie you saw which you recommended to someone else and why?

I’m currently reading a book on King Leonidas and the Persian Wars. I would definitely recommend that. And the last movie doesn’t really need recommending, Star Wars.

What sports team (amateur/professional) do you support?

The Montreal Canadiens, of course!

Why are you proud to be Canadian?

What’s not to be proud of? I enjoy living in the number one country in the world.  My parents came to this country from Greece, and while they are both very proud of their Greek heritage — as am I — they instilled in me an appreciation for the abundance of opportunity this great country has to offer.

In my duties representing the Senate outside Canada, I can’t help but be proud when I see the respect Canada garners from dignitaries and diplomats from every corner of the world. And when I meet Canadians of all walks of life from coast to coast to coast across Canada, I can’t help but be proud of the fabric that makes up this great nation of ours.

Canadians are unique for many reasons including our varied ethnic backgrounds and the diversity of the regions we live in thanks to the vast geographical expanse of our borders. However, Canadians are also united in our love for each other and all this great nation has to offer.  That is why I am proud to be Canadian.