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Candidates clash at the Winery: Conversation with the Candidates hosted by THE EQUITY

Brett Thoms
Shawville September 22, 2022
THE EQUITY held a Conversation with the Candidates on Thursday evening at the Little Red Wagon Winery. The conversation featured Will Twolan of the Canadian Party of Quebec (CaPQ), Terrence Watters of the Conservative Party of Quebec, Pierre Cyr of the Green Party of Quebec, André Fortin of the Quebec Liberal Party (QLP) and Mike Owen Sebagenzie of Québec solidaire (QS). Both Corrine Canuel-Jolicoeur of the CAQ and Jolaine Paradis-Phâteauneuf of the Parti Québécois were invited but did not attend.
The event was structured to encourage the candidates to engage with each other. The five attendees were given a chance to introduce themselves, followed by four twenty minute segments where they talked about some of the issues of the campaign. At the end they were given a chance to give concluding remarks.

You can watch the full debate for free at theequity.ca or on THE EQUITY’s Facebook page.

Here’s a highlight of some of the exchanges.
The first topic up for discussion was rural economic development.
Cyr started off by cautioning that development should not be approached through relying on large companies to control the process. He also focused on introducing a better waste management system to the area, which he said would be an economic and environmental benefit.
Fortin followed with a statement on where he thought the Pontiac’s economic future is.
“The Pontiac has made some mistakes in the past in terms of how it developed its economy. We have had our economy tied to one or two major sectors in the past and we suffered because of that,” said Fortin. “Since that time, we’ve changed course and many Pontiacers have reinvented themselves as business owners, putting their life savings on the line and for a lot of people it’s working right now.”
Fortin said that his priority would be to help create the conditions where those businesses could succeed and included increasing the small business tax deduction, and potential debt relief for certain businesses.” He also highlighted the need to provide services and housing as major driver development.

Sebagenzi said addressing the labour shortage and providing public transit help the region grow.
“We know that the median income here is about $35,000. That’s why we’re proposing a minimum wage of $18 an hour. Yearly for someone working full time, that’s about $36,000,” said Sebagenzi. He also added QS would support businesses who couldn’t afford that wage increase.
Twolan added that he believed the tourism industry needs a boost. He also said he would work the community to find solutions that work best for them.
Watters focused his remarks on reducing taxes as a way to help struggling families. He also highlighted the need to bring families into the Pontiac.
The conversation then opened up. Candidates questioned each other on the specifics of their housing plans, their immigration plans and their plans concerning the provision of services. The conversation saw a heated back and forth between the candidates.
The conversation then moved on to Bill 96 and Bill 21.
Twolan started off the conversation by saying he and his party are fundamentally opposed to Bill 96, Bill 21 and Bill 40.
Sebagenzi stated he had a more nuanced take on Bill 96 as it allowed the protection of French in the workplace.
“We have a government that used that bill to blame immigrants and English minorities for the declining French in Quebec,” said Sebagenzi. He added that he specifically opposed the six month time limit for immigrants to speak in French with the government and the lack of recognition for Indigenous languages in the bill.
Fortin was next.
“Bill 96 and Bill 21 are both very divisive pieces of legislation. They take away rights, particularly services. In some cases, they take away dreams,” said Fortin. “ I’m proud to have voted against these bills. What we’re proposing is to remove limits on CEGEPs, to remove the six months requirements for new immigrants to get services, the part on First Nations as was just explained, remove restrictions for small businesses, remove anything to do with healthcare because anything to do with healthcare on Bill 96 basically makes it so that people will not be able to get services in their own language and on healthcare, you have to understand every little thing that a healthcare professional tells you. And most of all, remove the Notwithstanding Clause because basically both these bills are saying that they are now above the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
Cyr expressed opposition to the bill and used it as an example to advocate for a proportional voting system.
“I believe, like the English community deserves better than what’s in there,” said Cyr.
Watters said that the CPQ was the only major party in favour of completely revoking Bill 96.
The conversations then opened again and saw more exchanges between the candidates.
Notably Fortin and Sebagenzi grilled Watters about his party’s support for Bill 21. There were also clashes between the CaPQ and CPQ with QLP and CLQ over whether Bill 96 needs to be repealed or simply amended.
The topic then move on to rural healthcare in Pontiac.
Watter’s started off with his proposal to privatize the Shawville Hospital.
This was followed by Twolan, who completely opposed privatization and advocated for a strong public and decentralized system.
Sebagenzi focused his remarks on improving working conditions in order to attract more healthcare workers. He also advocated for reinvesting in the public system and increasing access through proximity services.
Fortin focused his remarks on finding a regional solution to the healthcare worker shortage which included pay parity with Ontario healthcare workers, which would mean $25,000 more a year per nurse.
Cyr focused on a major audit of the system. a focus on decentralization and renovating the infrastructure we have now.
The conversation then opened up again and candidates spent time criticizing the CAQ, and debating the merits of privatizing the Pontiac hospital, which Fortin called “the worst and most detrimental idea that anybody has put forward in this campaign.”
Watters responded that privatization is inevitable.
Fortin was criticized for the centralization of the healthcare system that took place under the previous Liberal government.
There was also discussion over how realistic the concept of everyone having a family doctor, given the state of the system.
The final topic focused on climate change and the environment.
Sebagenzi started off by explaing that the QS is focused on expanding public transportation infrastructure in the Outaouais and heavily investing in green energy.
Fortin focused his remarks on investing in solar panels as a source of energy and consulting with farmers to ensure emission reductions are done in tandem with their needs.
Cyr focused on the need to massively invest in public transport between urban areas, improve waste collection in the area and spoke out against the proposed Chalk River dump site.
Watters said that technology was the only way greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced and said that Quebec’s natural resources could facilitate that technological change.
Twolan focused on reigning in the forestry industry, expanding public transit and working with farmers.
When the conversation opened the candidates sparred over the realism of setting emission targets, the viability of public transport in rural areas, natural gas versus hydro electric power and conservation projects.
The event then concluded with closing statements from all the candidates, where they all provided pitches to the electorate.
Again, you can watch the entire debate at theequity.ca or on our Facebook page.
The total length is a little over 1 hour and 40 minutes, though we have broken it down into four pieces.

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