Earlier today, Rita De Santis, MNA for the Bourassa-Sauvé riding in Montreal, was sworn in as Minister responsible for democratic reforms and access to information by Quebec premier Philippe Couillard.
A lawyer by training, De Santis was first elected to Quebec’s National Assembly as a member of the Quebec Liberal Party to represent the riding of Bourassa-Sauvé in September of 2012. The riding encompasses most of Montreal North. She was reelected in the April 2014 election.
De Santis was born in Palmoli, Italy, and immigrated to Montreal at the age of four with her parents. She would go on to study law at a time when young Italian-Canadian women were discouraged to do so. She was admitted to the Quebec Bar in 1981. De Santis became the first female partner at Davies, Ward, Phillips & Vineberg in Montreal.
For over a decade, De Santis was the president of the fundraising campaign for the Canadian Italian Business and Professional Association’s (CIBPA) Bursary Program. Since its inception in 1961, the annual program has awarded millions of dollars in grants to university students.
During today’s swearing in ceremony, De Santis made it a point to use her full name: Rita Lucia Casanova De Santis.
She later commented that not only did she want to emphasize her pride for her Italian roots, she also wanted to make her mother proud.
“I said it that way so that my mother who was listening would be proud, because Casanova is her family name,” De Santis told a CTV Montreal reporter.