Renaud Philippe Archives Le Devoir Jean Boulet will now be the minister responsible for the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region.
The Minister of Culture, Mathieu Lacombe, gave up on Thursday representing the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region, which was entrusted to his colleague Jean Boulet, a decision criticized by the PQ opposition.
< p>Mr. Lacombe said he lacked time to advance the issues in this region, which has three CAQ deputies. “I also felt that I did not have all the time necessary to properly carry out the Abitibi files,” he said in the press scrum. Then we have three fantastic colleagues in the field who want their files to move forward. So, in this context, I said to myself that it was better to pass. »
Mr. Lacombe is the MP for Chapleau, a riding in Outaouais, a region for which he is also responsible.
According to him, everything went well within the framework of this mandate. “The people on the ground didn’t blame me at all,” he explained. What I can tell you is that when I was appointed, I had excellent collaboration from the people on the ground. I worked well with them, there was never any conflict. »
After the 2022 general elections, Prime Minister François Legault gave up appointing one of the three deputies from Abitibi-Témiscamingue to the Council of Ministers, which forced him to entrust the region to a minister elected elsewhere.
A region which has potential, according to Boulet
The Prime Minister's Office announced Thursday that this situation would continue. The Minister of Labor, Jean Boulet, was given responsibility for the region, although he was elected in Trois-Rivières, in Mauricie.
“Abitibi-Témiscamingue has a lot of potential, there is a lot of development to be done on a human, social and economic level,” underlined the latter in the press scrum. Mr. Boulet did not comment on Mr. Legault's decision to once again entrust Abitibi-Témiscamingue to an elected official from outside the region. “I want to take this opportunity to salute the work of my predecessor Mathieu Lacombe,” he rather argued.
The one who was minister responsible for the region during the previous CAQ mandate, the deputy of Abitibi-Est, Pierre Dufour, was satisfied with the appointment of Mr. Boulet. “I think Jean can be an asset to the rest of us,” he said. I think we dare to hope that Jean will be able to land, for example, projects like what we want to have here, the second transformation in the mining sector. »
The Parti Québécois, for its part, denounced the fact that Abitibi-Témiscamingue does not have a minister from the region. “That the center of power moves from Gatineau to Trois-Rivières is not better,” declared PQ MP Pascal Bérubé.
The Horne foundry issue
The mayor of Rouyn-Noranda, Diane Dallaire, invited Jean Boulet to visit her city soon to discuss issues related to the rehousing of 200 families ordered by arsenic emissions from the Horne foundry. According to her, the planned amount of $58 million, announced in March, will be insufficient.
“I look forward to meeting him. Because, currently, we do not feel the government's urgency in the issue of air quality and the Horne smelter,” she said in an interview.
The mayor had already launched an appeal to the government this week regarding the wait linked to the compensation program, which has still not been the subject of consultations with the population. “People are impatient to have the broad outlines of this program, and we don’t have that. Their lives are turned upside down, people are worried. We need to reassure them,” she emphasizes.
Mathieu Lacombe had not traveled to meet her until now. Exchanges with him and with his colleague in Municipal Affairs, Andrée Laforest, were limited to videoconferences. “Mr. Lacombe was perhaps not so present. We understand that he had a heavy task,” she said.
Diane Dallaire said Thursday that she would obviously have liked Mr. Legault to choose as minister an elected official from the region. “Clearly, we need the presence of a regional minister, not just remote meetings,” she said. I am very much looking forward to speaking with the new regional minister. I want to give the rider a chance, but clearly, [he] will have to ensure a presence in the region. »
With information from Marie-Michèle Sioui