Category Archives for Politics That Matter

Is Canadian democracy threatened when few people vote?

Verdun citizens have a great opportunity to vote this week.

They can vote in a provincial representative who really knows how to get things done within the current party in power or they can choose someone who really understands Verdun well while giving the current party in power a wake-up call that change is needed now. If they choose the second option, they can choose a woman who understands politics well and left the current party in power because she doesn’t believe they’re ethical or they can choose a businessman who is campaigning about improving schools in Verdun.

Any of those choices will give us a well-rounded committed hard-working representative in the provincial legislature.

Unfortunately, if recent trends persist, most people won’t participate.

According to Quebec’s electoral body, the rate of participation in by-elections ranges from 18% in 2013 to a high of 81% in 1979. Most of the time, they hover among the 30% rate.

Isn’t that a problem for our democracy? I think it is, as do most politically active people.

That’s why so many of us have been working to inform Verdun citizens.

Most of the local candidates have been working hard to get out the vote. All of them have spent hours going door-to-door, standing at Metro stops and meeting with groups and individuals to make their message heard.

Monsignor Richard high school set up a debate and 325 students came out to hear the candidates speak.

One of the candidates organized a public debate at the Epiphanie Church on Wellington last week when he saw that there wasn’t one scheduled.

Veronique Martineau speaking to Verdun restaurants at Baobab

A municipal councillor and local parents invited candidates to present their messages individually to electors at a local coffee shop last Saturday.

Still, lots of my neighbours say they’re happy to let others make the choice for them.

That approach isn’t getting good results. According to various reports, Quebec has an unusually-high drop-out rate, the highest taxes, the highest migration rate and a “middle of the pack” score on health. Everyone knows how bad the roads are.

These are all issues handled by the provincial government and if we want these things to be improved, we had better make sure that the people who represent us are going to act.

That’s why I voted yesterday. Unfortunately, there were only five of us there.

Luckily, there’s still time.

The provincial election office has set up voting stations in homes, in senior centres and at public locations yesterday and today.

To learn more about the candidates vying for your vote, consider listening to the 20-minute interviews I did with each of the top three candidates for my new podcast. They are: Isabelle Melançon, Richard Langlais and Ginette Marotte.

If  Verdun residents prefer, they can choose one of the single-issue candidates or candidates who represent the less-popular parties.

  • Véronique Martineau, who lives and works in Verdun, is running for Québec solidaire which wants separation for Quebec but is more concerned about working conditions and social housing in this election.
  • David Cox, for the Green Party of Québec, is focusing on the environment in this election. He lives in Pointe-aux-Trembles and is very concerned about the effect the refineries and the new incinerator have on Montrealers’ health.
  • Frédéric Dénommé, who lives in Verdun, is running for Option nationale because he wants separation clearly on the table in this election.
  • David Girard is running for the Équipe Adrien Pouliot – Parti conservateur du Québec, which wants to limit red tape for businesses.
  • Sébastien Poirier is running for the Équipe autonomiste, which wants fewer social programs.

If you live in Verdun, I hope this information encourages you to get out there and vote on December 5.

If you don’t live in Verdun, but you live in Quebec, you can follow the Director General of Elections to make sure you know when the next election takes place where you live.

If you live somewhere else, consider finding and following your own appropriate non-partisan body in charge of elections. In fact, I’d love it if you could share them in the comments below  so that everyone in your region can do the same.

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One-time Liberal Former Mayor Runs for the CAQ

Last Thursday and Friday, I got a chance to interview Ginette Marotte to ask her why she thinks Verdun residents should vote for her to represent them in the Quebec legislature.

She spoke about her desire to re-enter politics after seeing Robert Poeti demoted. “He’s the most honest politician I’ve ever met,” she said. She also spoke about her need to make sure that her values and love for seniors and children are reflected in provincial education policy.

Had to interview her twice because I forgot to press the play button on our first interview! Sorry, Ginette. Our conversation is in English on Mixcloud:

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Can Local Businessman Get Elected to Improve Schools?

Last Thursday, I got a chance to interview Richard Langlais to ask him why he thinks Verdun residents should vote for him to represent them in the Quebec legislature.

He spoke about his plans to put $5,000 into a foundation to improve local schools, his dedication to improving Verdun over the years and his concerns that Verdun be represented by someone who cares for the borough and will work for its residents no matter what.

You can hear our discussion on MixCloud:

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Strong Liberal Candidate Parachuted-in

Last Thursday, I got a chance to interview Isabelle Melançon in French about her candidacy to become Verdun’s provincial member of parliament during the 2016 by-election.

My interview is on Mixcloud at:

Melançon lives in Assomption, but she says she has lots to offer Verdun residents other than an postal address. She says she has lots of government experience and will be ready to get to work on the education, transportation and social housing files that concern Verdun on December 6 if she’s elected December 5th.

For more information about Melançon, check out the following stories:

http://www.plq.org/fr/article/isabelle-melancon-candidate-parti-liberal-quebec-election-partielle-verdun 

La libérale Isabelle Mélançon se présente dans Verdun

http://www.journaldemontreal.com/2016/10/03/election-complementaire-dans-verdun-le-plq-misera-sur-isabelle-melancon

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Poeti’s asks Daoust about Transport Ministry Problems

Poeti

Former Transport Minister Robert Poeti

Finally a credible explanation about Poeti’s demotion.

Everyone in LaSalle and Verdun have been wondering why Couillard replaced Robert Poeti with Jacques Daoust in the last cabinet shuffle.

Jacques Daoust

Jacques Daoust

“Making room for younger, more diverse people” as a reason defies all logic.

At first, we thought his was his hard stance on Uber, but the government has since taken essentially the same position.

The Journal de Montreal had a few other ideas about what went wrong, but they seemed like small issues for someone who works as hard as Poeti does. The man seemingly doesn’t sleep. Even as a cabinet minister, he frequently attended important local events. Residents of his constituency see him everywhere, and he frequently takes up their causes.

Now we discover from L’Actualité that Poeti was investigating the department of Transport and attempting to improve its governance.

The problems, according to journalist Louis Lacroix, included the impossible situation in which junior employees are supposed to fairly evaluate their bosses without being influenced to modify their reports.

Mais l’ancien secrétaire général du gouvernement, André Dicaire, qui siège au comité d’audit du ministère des Transports, avait eu l’idée de changer la structure en nommant un PCP par région relevant directement du directeur territorial.

«Donc, l’employé se trouve à évaluer son patron sur les conformités de projets ou de contrats qui ont été donnés. J’y voyais un problème», dit M. Poëti.

Lacroix’s story also outlines how former employees obtained their salaries via no-bid contracts.

Par exemple, un ex-employé à la retraite et résidant désormais à Saguenay a été réembauché en 2014 pour travailler au projet de réfection de l’échangeur Turcot… à Montréal. Le contrat consistait à offrir des «services de conseiller expert en gestion de projet pour un mode de réalisation non traditionnel».

Mais plutôt que de lui accorder un salaire de 50 000 dollars, le ministère lui a donné deux contrats de gré à gré de 24 500 dollars, tout juste sous le seuil des appels d’offres, au nom de son entreprise.

Lacroix’s information about UPAC refusing to investigate Transport Ministry employees is well worth reading.

La Presse‘s story included  Poeti’s letter to Jacques Daoust asking for explanations about cost overruns, employee behaviour and no-bid contracts awarded by the Transport Ministry that still haven’t been answered.

Despite stories by the Canadian Press as reported in the  CBCCJAD, Citynews and Le Journal, Poeti may not have been demoted for asking too many questions. That’s what Jonathan Trudeau thinks. There may indeed be another reason that the ex-police officer and popular local politician had to be removed from discussions taking place under cabinet secrecy.

Still, it won’t hurt to examine the operations of the Transport Ministry while we keep wondering what’s really going on.

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