The electoral campaign is now two weeks old and the main parties’ leaders have started laying out their platform and promises to sway voters. The Chronicle was able to speak with five of the seven candidates that are running in the election in Nelligan (Pierrefonds, Kirkland) on Friday to get a better idea of their platform.
Yolande James, Liberal Party of Quebec
This is James’ fourth electoral campaign and her experience as a MNA in the riding could help her secure a fourth mandate from her constituents. On Friday, James talked about the importance of community organizations and how she wants to continue working with them for the benefit of West Islanders. She also said one of the priorities of the Liberals is to keep creating wealth and opportunities for the region and that this would help solve the poverty issue which is present in the riding.
“I want to be able to continue to focus on jobs, opportunities and the economy here in the West Island. The best way to get there is certainly not to have five years of turbulence we would have with a PQ government. As for François Legault, I don’t think that he’s a credible choice when we’re only ten days into the campaign and he’s made over four billion dollars of commitments. How is he going to pay for that,” she asked.
Philippe Boileau, Coalition Avenir du Québec (CAQ)
Boileau is 44 years old and works as a real estate lawyer who has also started a few businesses over the years in Montreal and Quebec city. He says that the West Island has been taken for granted by the Liberals and that sovereignty talks have hurt the province, causing an exodus. While he supports the creation of an urban boulevard west of St. Charles as announced by the Liberals two weeks ago, he also mentioned extending Jacques-Bizard boulevard would be a good way to relieve traffic in the riding. One of his main messages is that the West Island has lost its entrepreneurial edge and he would like to be able to work on that.
“Entrepreneurs should be the economic engine of West Island. The West Island was formerly known as the area of pharmaceutical companies. Where are those pharmaceutical industries? It’s simply not true the Liberals have managed to maintain the industry. Formation and development activities are no longer done here. Merck Frost is nearly closed. There remains only of it a large building with nothing in it. I think with businessmen in power and people who have been entrepreneurs... We must put an end to state intervention. Things have got to change,” he said.
Kristianne Brunet - Green Party of Quebec
Brunet is a 22-year-old Concordia student and she thinks constituents in Nelligan feel disconnected. She feels the Green Party of Quebec represents a good progressive, federalist alternative to the Liberals, certainly not a one-issue party.
She wants more public transit, safer bike path and to create development for the riding. She is also concerned in giving the citizens a voice in the National Assembly.
“My view on democracy is that if I get elected in, I should be having monthly consults with the people in order for me to bring back their opinions and their views on things into the National Assembly. That’s not happening right now to the extent of which I would like to be doing. The Green Party is very grassroots. That’s really what our message is to really a democracy that really reflects the view of the people,” she said.
Elahé Chokrai Machouf – Québec Solidaire
A retired nurse, Chokrai Machouf has five priorities in mind: a better health system, electric transportation, better pensions for the elderly, free tuition and fiscal balance between the rich and the poor.
She would like to put an end to the two-way (public-private) health system to be able to re-inject doctors and nurses into the public system. She feels that with more electric trains and cars, the environment and the taxpayers’ wallets would be better off. She claims that by having a better management of the education system at the administrative level, we could have free-tuition universities within five years. One of Quebec Solidaire’s propositions would be to augment the retirees’ pensions up to 60 per cent of their salaries. She also claims that a re-evaluation of our imposition system could solve many problems in Quebec.
“The middle class pays a lot of taxes and the wealthiest are paying less. If we calculate the billions of dollars that are in tax havens, large companies that carry their money there to avoid paying taxes, it is the people that suffers from that. If there is a revision of the tax level for major industries, it could compensate for any deficiencies,” she said.
François Landry – Option Nationale
A 34-year-old graphic designer for a clothing company, François Landry is a newcomer to politics. He believes there are lots of issues in Quebec that require attention right now such as education, the environment and corruption.
Option Nationale being a sovereignist party, Landry believes that West Islanders are not so staunchly opposed to the idea as one might think.
At first glance, the mentality of the West-Island in relation to sovereignty is not necessarily the most positive one would expect. So this is my personal challenge for me. I grew up here, I know how things are in Nelligan, I went to school here, I played minor hockey, I played football at Alexander Park, I've even been in the Scouts. I'm very aware of cultural diversity we have. Some people might be surprised to know now citizens are ready to hear our message now,” he said.
The Parti Québécois’ (PQ) Marcos Archambault and the Leninist-Marxist Party of Quebec did not return our calls.