Leo Housakos

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The Honourable
Leonidas Housakos
Speaker of the Senate
In office
May 4, 2015 – December 3, 2015
Acting: April 24, 2015 – May 4, 2015
Nominated by Stephen Harper
Appointed by David Johnston
Preceded by Pierre Claude Nolin
Succeeded by George Furey
Senator for Wellington, Quebec
Assumed office
January 8, 2009
Nominated by Stephen Harper
Appointed by Michaëlle Jean
Preceded by Aurélien Gill
Personal details
Born (1968-01-10) January 10, 1968 (age 49)
Montreal, Quebec
Political party Progressive Conservative Party of Canada (before 2000)
Canadian Alliance (2000–2003)
Conservative (2003–present)
Spouse(s) Demi Papapanagiotou
Children Peter and Tasso
Residence Montreal
Alma mater McGill University
Profession businessman

Leonidas "Leo" Housakos (born January 10, 1968) is a Canadian politician of Greek descent and a Conservative member of the Canadian Senate.[1]

He was appointed acting Speaker of the Canadian Senate on April 24, 2015, following the death of Pierre Claude Nolin.[2] On May 4, 2015, he was appointed as Pierre Claude Nolin's successor permanently.[3] He was succeeded as Speaker by Senator George Furey on December 3, 2015, on Furey's appointment to the position by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.[4]

Background[edit]

An avid student of the Canadian political system, Montreal-born Leo Housakos has been actively involved in Canada's political and business sectors for over twenty-five years. Housakos was appointed to the Canadian Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper on December 22, 2008.

His varied experience in the business world includes the presidency of Terrau Inc., a company specializing in composting, the presidency of Quadvision International, a company which focuses upon communications and strategic planning and the vice-presidency, Sales at Constant Laboratories, a company specializing in the development and sales of industrial chemical products. He was also a member of the North America Advisory Board for the Alexander Proudfoot Company, an organization specializing in the productivity of corporations.

At the age of 16, Housakos became involved with the youth wing of the Progressive Conservative Party. He graduated from McGill University with a Bachelor of Arts in 1992 and worked as a ministerial staffer in the Ministry of Multiculturalism under Gerry Weiner. Soon after, he became involved with the Hellenic Congress of Quebec and served two terms as its Vice-President, National Issues between 1998 and 2000.

Housakos decided to become a candidate for the Canadian Alliance in the 2000 federal election, in the riding of Laval West, where he has lived for over twenty years.[5][6]

He co-founded the Hellenic Board of Trade in 1993, an organization dedicated to the development of business opportunities and networking in the Greater Montreal Area. The Hellenic Board of Trade is a member of the Board of Trade of Greater Montreal and his work with this organization allowed Housakos to focus upon municipal issues as he eventually became an advisor to the Mayor of Montreal between 2001-2002.

His political experience also includes the presidency of the fundraising commission of the Action Démocratique du Québec.

In 2007, he was appointed to the Board of Directors of Via Rail and served for a year.

Personal life[edit]

He is married to Demi Papapanagiotou for over 19 years and is the father of two children, Peter and Tasso.

A Digital Plan for Canada[edit]

Commenting on the release of the report, Housakos said, "We need a multi-targeted policy approach to prepare the way for a digital society. We need a principal of true universality to avoid the creation of 'information haves' and 'information have-nots'."[7] NDP industry critic Brian Masse welcomed the report, insisting a national digital policy was overdue for Canadians and contained many ideas his party wants to explore further.[8]

Public positions, public statements and published articles[edit]

Breaking ranks with his party in September 2011, Housakos was the first Conservative Party parliamentarian to openly and publicly oppose the nomination of unilingual Michael Ferguson as Auditor General of Canada, stating, "there are certain positions in the federal government that are so symbolic to what Canada is all about and I just believe they have to be filled by people who are functionally bilingual."[9] Arguing that the appointment sets a dangerous precedent that threatens bilingualism in Canada, he said, "I think that bilingualism is so fundamental to this country, not just from the point of view of national unity, but I think it’s a tool that should be used as a positive attribute, both in terms of our diplomatic strategies and our commercial strategies around the world."[10]

In October 2012, Housakos published The Challenges of Integration and Multiculturalism, where he voices concerns regarding the difficulties recent immigrants have had in being both accepted and integrated within North American society and, more specifically, the challenges the Muslim communities after 9/11.[11][12] He argues that the Canadian government should provide prospective new immigrants a clear understanding of the norms and values of their adoptive new home, because Canada is a country based on the separation of Church and state and the equality of men and women.

Housakos published Multiculturalism's an Outdated Insult, in March 2013, where he argues that official Multiculturalism in Canada became a state-financed marketing program where the government uses tax dollars to buy photo ops with ethnic leaders.[13]

Housakos later spoke out against the Parti Quebecois government's Charter of Quebec Values, on the basis that it negates respect for individual rights.

"Other than just a political ploy on the part of the Parti Québécois to chase down nationalist votes that have maybe left to go to other more radical nationalist parties in the last couple of elections, there's no other benefit (from introducing a new charter)," said Housakos. "So the only people that see a need for this is the Parti Québécois. And the need is for political expediency."[14]

Community involvement[edit]

Housakos does charity work for the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), where they help raise funds for children’s causes in the Montreal area.

He helped to organize a charity ball for Giant Steps, an association dedicated to helping autistic children.[15][16]

He has also been coaching a youth hockey team for over 10 years. In 2009, his team became the champions of the 33rd Brossard Provincial Atom hockey tournament.[17]

Senate Committees

Current member of the Transport and Communications (TRCM) Current member of the Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament (RPRD) Former member of the Foreign Affairs and International Trade (AEFA) Former member of the Agriculture and Forestry (AGFO) Former member of the Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources (ENEV) Former member of the Scrutiny of Regulations (joint) (REGS)

References[edit]

Preceded by
Pierre Claude Nolin
Speaker of the Canadian Senate
2015
Succeeded by
George Furey