Air quality, main interest of the public during the regional debate in Rouyn-Noranda | Elections Quebec 2022

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Air quality, main interest of the public during the regional debate in Rouyn-Noranda | Élections Quebec 2022

The electoral debate on social and environmental justice was organized by the General Student Association of UQAT with member organizations of the Abitibi-Témiscamingue Popular Education Group.

Collapse of biodiversity, protection of the environment, sustainable economy, housing crisis and social services: so many themes addressed during the first regional debate of the electoral campaign, but which seem to have been slightly supplanted by that of the quality of air.

Émilise Lessard-Therrien of Québec solidaire (QS), Jean-François Vachon of the Parti québécois (PQ) and Arnaud Warolin of the Liberal Party of Québec (PLQ), defended their ideas without hurting those of their opponents too much, on Monday evening.

The three candidates in the Rouyn-Noranda-Témiscamingue riding met at the Rouyn-Noranda campus of the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT) with Maxym Perron-Tellier, candidate for the Conservative Party of Québec (PCQ) in Abitibi- East. The Coalition avenir Québec was an absent subscriber.

The chosen formula generated polite and courteous exchanges between the candidates. The latter took turns answering questions from Marie-Ève ​​Duclos, coordinator of the Regional Concertation of Community Organizations of Abitibi-Témiscamingue without discussing directly with each other. Their right to speak was timed.

The public could attend the debate at the atrium of the 'UQAT.

Issues related to the Horne Foundry were brought to the fore by public interventions. Almost a third of their question was on this topic.

Québec solidaire's commitment has always been extremely clear. We do not want to close the Horne Foundry, but rather demand that the Quebec standard [3 ng/m3] be reached within a first solidarity mandate, replied Émilise Lessard-Therrien when questioned by the moderator on the air quality issue in Rouyn-Noranda and Témiscamingue.

The outgoing MP reiterated her position during an exchange with a member of the audience. The foundry is 100% legal in the way it operates today. But this smelter, which is foreign-owned, is primarily concerned with getting a return on investment. She admitted she would abide by the government's standards, but the government still has to have requirements, she added.

Without mentioning a specific target, Arnaud Warolin offered to support the Horne Foundry in its modernization.

We have to work together. You have to do research. Technology needs to be developed. And all of this takes some time. We have a 100-year-old factory that needs to modernize and develop technology that does not yet exist, said the Liberal candidate.

< p class="sc-v64krj-0 knjbxw">The candidate in Rouyn-Noranda-Témiscamingue of the Liberal Party of Quebec, Arnaud Warolin

The PQ candidate Jean-François Vachon, who declared himself in favor of the target of 3 nanograms per meter cube of arsenic in the air (ng/m⁠3), shared Mr. Warolin's opinion on the importance of innovating and developing new technologies, in particular in collaboration with the University of Quebec in Abitibi-Témiscamingue.

We also have the target of 3 ng/m3 in four years. It is an ideal. That doesn't mean it's going to happen. The goal is to set them the highest target and then make the necessary adjustments, he said.

Also opposed to the closure of the plant, Maxym Perron-Tellier said he hoped the region would become a world leader in the field of heavy metal capture.

We don't want that the company is leaving for China, as we see elsewhere in Quebec and North America, illustrated Maxym Perron-Tellier.

He recalled that the Conservative Party of Quebec proposes to create a research chair at UQAT to allow it to arbitrate the file in a neutral way.

Ms. Lessard-Therrien took advantage of the debate to recall her presence at the march on arsenic, scheduled for Friday in the Notre-Dame district. The two other candidates in Rouyn-Noranda-Témiscamingue, Jean-François Vachon and Arnaud Warolin, replied that they were in reflection.

The second segment of the debate, dedicated to social justice, was allowed to identify points of divergence and convergence between the candidates.

The housing issue was an opportunity for Arnaud Warolin to promote the Charter of the Regions, a program promoted by his party across the province.

The Conservative candidate has he also deplored the wall-to-wall of Quebec and its tendency to centralization, but during the segment dedicated to the financing of community organizations. Mr. Perron-Tellier, who advocates the decentralization of the health network and greater privatization, was told by the outgoing MP that the network should remain public.

Jean-François Vachon of the Parti Québécois insisted on the importance of improving capacity to retain health professionals in the regions.

Jean-François Vachon also wants the working conditions of nurses to be improved, an opinion shared by his Liberal counterpart .

The candidate of the Coalition avenir Québec, Daniel Bernard, did not participate in the debate.

Pierre Dufour, Suzanne Blais and Daniel Bernard, the three candidates for the Coalition avenir Québec in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, did not take part in the event.

Their absence was highlighted on several occasions by the candidates.

It must be recognized that we are experiencing a housing crisis in Abitibi-Témiscamingue. Again, last spring, the CAQ refused to admit it. That's a shame. I would have liked to hear from the CAQ candidates, mentioned outgoing MP Émilise Lessard-Therrien.

The Parti Québécois created early childhood centres. If any party is able to deliver in this area, it's the Parti Québécois, not the CAQ, added Mr. Vachon about another shortage: that of child care.

Léonie Bernard-Abel, press officer for the CAQ in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, explained to us on Monday afternoon that the schedule of the candidates did not allow them to participate in the debate.

We only have one candidate, we can't clone him, she said, referring to Daniel Bernard, traveling to Témiscamingue until Wednesday.

The candidates would have received their invitation to the debate last Wednesday, a time they considered too short to allow them to free themselves.

It's a pity. We received several requests for debate, but unfortunately we had to make choices, adds Ms. Bernard-Abel.

Local and regional debates have so far been mostly shunned by the candidates of the CAQ. The electoral debate on social and environmental justice took place within the framework of the Vire au vert initiative.

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