Former Liberal MNA Fatima Houda-Pepin has become Quebec’s Delegate General in Dakar, Senegal.
Her nomination was confirmed Wednesday at the weekly council of ministers meeting.
The former Liberal Minister of International Relations, Christine St-Pierre, officially assured Quebec’s diplomatic presence in Senegal, a first for Quebec on African soil.
The Quebec offices in Dakar have been operational since 2016, but the official general delegation status was only obtained in 2018.
For the previous government, the idea was to extend the diplomatic, cultural and economic influence of Quebec, an active member of the Francophonie, across this often neglected continent, which includes many francophone countries.
The territory covered by the delegation will include Senegal, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Togo, The Gambia, Cameroon and Gabon.
It is estimated that about 85 per cent of the world’s Francophones will live in Africa by 2050.
Houda-Pepin, 67, who is of Moroccan origin, was a Liberal MP for La Pinière for 20 years, from 1994 to 2014.
She had disagreed with the Liberal caucus, and especially with former premier Philippe Couillard, in 2013, on the issue of secularism.
The Liberals argued that she left caucus of her own free will, but she claimed to have been removed due to her stance on religious symbols.
As a Muslim woman, she was worried about the rise of integration and challenged her party’s position.
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For a few months in 2014 she sat as an independent member of the National Assembly, and ran unsuccessfully as an independent candidate in the general election, but voters elected Liberal Gaétan Barrette to succeed her in the riding of La Pinière, on the south shore of Montreal.
Since leaving politics, Houda-Pepin has spoken at conferences and has worked as an international consultant. She has been writing a column in Le Journal de Montréal since 2016.
The former vice-president of the National Assembly has a master’s degree (University of Ottawa) and a doctorate degree (Université de Montréal) in international relations.