Exchanges sometimes full-bodied, but above all cordial to the debate in Abitibi-Ouest | Elections Quebec 2022

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Sometimes vigorous, but above all cordial exchanges during the debate in Abitibi-Ouest | Élections Québec 2022

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Tuesday evening's debate in Amos was organized by the Centre-Abitibi Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Four of the candidates from the electoral district of Abitibi-Ouest crossed swords on Tuesday evening during a debate organized by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Centre-Abitibi in Amos.

The caquiste Suzanne Blais, the liberal Guy Bourgeois, the solidarity Alexis Lapierre and the péquiste Samuel Doré presented their respective positions according to six main themes: regional development, health, economy, culture, the environment and the education.

The formula also allowed sometimes muscular, but above all cordial exchanges during this debate which lasted about two and a half hours in front of more than 70 people in the Foyer of the Théâtre des Eskers.

Caquiste Suzanne Blais had to answer many questions from the other candidates present.

Outgoing MP Suzanne Blais had to defend her record and that of her government on several occasions, after recalling that Quebec had invested $220 million in the riding during her mandate.

Samuel Doré opened hostilities from his opening remarks.

If we ask, did Madame Blais do her best, yes, but was she able to represent us? Was she able to carry our demands? Me, I have doubts about it, because it is the structure of the CAQ: we pledge allegiance to the chief and we are spokespersons for the chief in our riding, he launched, claiming to want to offer the region new leadership.

Suzanne Blais also did not hesitate to join the fray, asking Guy Bourgeois how he felt seeing the state of the health network in the wake of the centralization carried out under the Barrette reform, when he was a Liberal deputy in Abitibi-Est.

Not more uncomfortable than you, since when your colleague Mrs [Danielle] McCann took the guides from the Ministry of Health, she said that Dr Barrette had done the right thing, he replied , before admitting that the model had not been good for the region, any more than the abolition of the Regional Conference of Elected Officials.

François Lemire, from the monitoring committee for the construction of emergency, intensive care and operating theaters at Amos Hospital, invited the candidates to form a common front in this file.

Samuel Doré insisted on the importance of restarting the Resolute newsprint mill. We have to deal with it, find solutions, because obviously it affects the workers of Resolute. Several have moved on, but would be interested in returning. But it also affects a host of suppliers, it affects many other small and medium-sized businesses that had significant spinoffs throughout the region, he said.

Guy Bourgeois meanwhile reminded that Suzanne Blais should have played a more important role in this file.

You have to take care of the file and take an interest in it, not just watch the train go by, to make a difference and tell the world, if you don't want to operate this plant, we want it.

Suzanne Blais insisted that she was taking care of the file, with the recovery committee.

Solidarity Alexis Lapierre recalled some of his party's commitments.

Alexis Lapierre, for his part, recalled Québec solidaire's commitment to create 1,100 social housing units in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, which sparked lively discussions. It's housing for people who have needs, but it will also free up housing for workers, I think companies need that, he said.

You can have proposals for housing, but what I find a bit absurd is to arrive in the region, introduce yourself and say: "we at QS, we are going to solve the housing crisis" . It seems impossible to me, interrupted Samuel Doré.

And Suzanne Blais adds: Impossible, impossible, impossible. A thousand homes, how much do you think it costs, 1000 homes? Money doesn't grow on trees.

Childcare services have also caused exchanges.

To Samuel Doré who told her that instead of trying to save time with diversionary measures, the CAQ should create more places, Suzanne Blais retorted: Yes, but we must repair the broken pots. There were years without child care, 10 years. We would like to have everything settled in four years, with a two-year pandemic? Come on, that's unthinkable.

Alexis Lapierre denounced the comments of François Legault on the threat that immigrants could represent and the fact that as soon as he was elected in 2018, the Coalition avenir Québec had axed the Quebec experience program which facilitates the establishment of foreign students. Then, he questioned Suzanne Blais' desire to increase the regional population.

It's not magic. Your government does not recognize the housing crisis, child care waiting lists have increased under your government and you want to lower the immigration thresholds. I mean, we do not have winning conditions to increase the population base in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, and we are not rabbits, he imagined, causing laughter in the room.

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