By Nick Fonda
Local Journalism Inititaive
Early this week, Alain Rayes, who sits as an independent Member of House of Commons for the riding of Richmond-Arthabaska, announced that he will be retiring from politics at the end of the current mandate.
“There were a lot of phone calls to my riding office,” he says. “I did over two dozen media interviews, about as many as I did when I left the Conservative caucus at this time last year. We had more requests than we could accommodate.”
“I suppose that I drew media attention because my story is a little different,” he explains. “I enjoyed a certain popularity even though the party I was with for seven years wasn’t generally liked. I always acted in accordance with my own values and convictions. I was told by a political reporter the other day that he found me refreshing because my interviews were never a short set of talking points but a real conversation.”
Alain Rayes’ story is a little different. Unlike many politicians, he was neither in law nor in business before entering politics. As a 22-year-old armed with a teaching degree in math and computer science from the Université de Québec à Montréal, he embarked on a classroom career in both elementary and high schools. He obtained a Master’s in Education at the Université de Sherbrooke and became a school principal in charge, for several years, of the fourth largest high school in Quebec, Victoriaville’s Le Tandem Boisé, which had a student body of 2,500 along with 350 employees.
He took his first foray into politics at the age of 31 when he ran, unsuccessfully, in a provincial election under the banner of Mario Dumont’s Action démocratique du Québec. Seven years later, in 2009, he was elected mayor of Victoriaville, a post he gave up in 2015 to run—and win—as a Conservative in a federal election that was swept by Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.