On the road: On dry land, “it's total starvation” | Elections Quebec 2022

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On the road: On dry land, “it’s total starvation” | Élections Québec 2022

There is nothing more bucolic than an image of cows grazing in a meadow. However, behind the pastoral photo, small cattle producers are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. This text is the 12th in our series On the road – In search of Quebec.

Cows eating feed in a field at Guy Brouillette's farm.

SAINTE-ANNE-DE-LA-PÉRADE to SAINT-VICTOR EN BEAUCE – On the Chemin du Roy, the oldest road in America, the sky is stormy. The two huge bell towers of the church of Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade are capped with black clouds. The chiaroscuro of autumn seems to have suspended time in this village in the RCM of Les Chenaux, the tomcod fishing capital of the world.

At the corn kiosk in Guy Brouillette's farm, the season is coming to an end. We still have it until the first big frost, says the 58-year-old farmer, offering me a sweet, hot cob with butter. Between bites, I ask him: – So, Mr. Brouillette, how is agriculture in Quebec?Like the sky of this autumn morning, Mr. Brouillette's words are tempestuous. It's fine for the big ones, but for the others, it's total starvation. He sighs and repeats: Total starvation.

Guy Brouillette in his sweet corn field on his farm in Sainte-Anne-de-La-Pérade.

Guy Brouillette's family acquired the land he farms 125 years ago. He bought her back from her mother for a fraction of her market value. He is a market gardener, but also has a cow-calf farm. The man devotes his early mornings, his evenings, his weekends to the farm, but he also works 40 hours a week at the garage specializing in agricultural machinery which bears his name and which he sold to his employees there. five years ago.

No choice. If I hadn't worked elsewhere than on the farm, the cows would have starved to death, he says. I earn zero with the farm. My wife who takes care of the damn paperwork required by the Ministry of Agriculture, she earns zero too. Add zero plus zero! Well, that's zero. Zero as in Ouellet.

According to Guy Brouillette, this fairly simple mathematical equation explains why the number of beef farmers is shrinking like a trickle in Quebec. Today, our beef is easily compared to beef from the West, it is cut with a fork so tender it is. We get a dollar a pound, which cannot be bought at the grocery store. We're not the ones pocketing, let me tell you, he said impetuously.

At the end of the electoral race, the entrepreneur does not mince his words. The CAQ is the worst party since Confederation for agricultural producers. He is particularly angry with the Minister of Agriculture of the outgoing government. The qualifiers he uses to talk about it are colorful to say the least and could not be written here, but he sums up his grievances seriously. They just helped the big producers, he sums up.

So who are you going to vote for? < em>Certainly not for QS. My farm is worth over a million, but I don't make a pennywith. And they wanted to tax that! I know they have changed their minds for the farmers, but for me, it proves that they are disconnected from the reality of the countryside. No, you will laugh at me, but I will vote liberal. I must be one of the last francophones to vote for that, he laughs. But I'm centre-left and traditionally it's the liberals.

Guy Brouillette in his tractor garage on his farm in Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade.

We leave Mr. Brouillette after a visit to the barn where he has installed his collection of old tractors that he likes to patch up, an agricultural heritage that he cherishes. On Saturdays, in winter, the people of the village come here, we repair the tractors, we chat, we take the time to get together, he told us with a certain tenderness when referring to these meetings.

The storm broke over the Mauricie, so we drove non-stop towards Beauce and the Beaucerons, these rebels, as Madeleine Ferron and Robert Cliche already wrote in 1974 in a book on the history of Beauce. The authors said that the Beaucerons had helped the American troops wanting to free themselves from the British crown, who came in 1775 to take refuge on their territory, to the great despair of the clergy and politicians of French Canada at the time.


Alain Tardif from Saint-Victor shared his point with us view of the current campaign.

In Saint-Victor, a small town perched on a hill overlooking a valley as far as the eye can see, we stopped to take pictures of Éric Duhaime's Conservative Party posters in front of the church. Alain Tardif, a local resident, challenged us. Do you want to photograph Trump Junior?, he said to us, mockingly, his large umbrella in one hand and his canning jars in the other.

I'm leaving make cucumbers in vinegar. Mr. Tardif tells us that he will probably vote Québec solidaire. Around here, I'm the exception that proves the rule, he laughs. He then asks us if we are coming to meet the MP.

Former federal Liberal MP, Normand Lapointe, has a lot to tell about politics and campaigns.

The deputy? It is the second person in Saint-Victor who tells us about the deputy. However, Normand Lapointe has not been a member for a long time. He was elected to the Liberal team of Pierre Elliott Trudeau in 1980. He defeated the Social Credit candidate, a populist conservative party, who held the seat before him. He lost it in the 1984 election to his Conservative opponent, Gilles Bernier, Maxime's dad, who would become a minister in Brian Mulroney's government.

But no matter, Normand Lapointe is still called that by some people in the village. We ring at his door, just in case. The 86-year-old man, straight as a bar, invites us to enter. In his house, you can see the valley below. In the words of the deputy, we hear the historical perspective, the one that only people who have lived a long time can give.

The Beaucerons are not little sheep. They are fearless, they are go-getter and hard-working, he proudly explains. Trudeau (he is obviously talking about the father) always told me, you, Lapointe, you are a real Beauceron. The former monkey MP Pierre Elliott takes on a nasal, drawling voice and quotes from memory what Trudeau Sr. often repeated to him. The best way to beat your opponent, Lapointe, is to say a lot of good things about him.

Mr. Lapointe imitates Pierre Elliott Trudeau so well that, in the small living room of Saint- Victor, we burst out laughing.

Mr. Lapointe voted in advance. For Francois Legault. He made mistakes, but overall he did it well, he said. The MP adopts the jerky rhythm typical of René Lévesque's speech and quotes the founder of the Parti Québécois who once said, Normand Lapointe tells us: Only idiots don't make mistakes.


Former federal Liberal MP, Normand Lapointe, presents his photography with Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

Before being elected to the federal scene, Lapointe was active in provincial politics. First for the National Union of Jean-Jacques Bertrand, then for the Liberals of Bourassa. The Liberals, there, it's very pitiful, but they will get up. Remember that in 56, Georges-Émile Lapalme was going to sit in Quebec in a seven-seater. That did not prevent Lesage from being elected with an overwhelming majority in 1960.

And the Conservatives? I do not want to know anything. Duhaime is a good radio announcer, but in politics he doesn't have it. But if people send him to Quebec, it's democracy and we have to respect that. Democracy is so important.

What do you think of the PQ? A member of the Union Nationale, Maurice Bellemare, not to name him, always said: "In politics, it is not the size of the mass that counts, it is the swing of the sleeve". Lapointe takes care to specify, as if it were necessary given his track record, that he is not a PQ member, but affirms without hesitation: It is Paul St-Pierre Plamondon who has the swing right now.

A view of the Church of Saint-Évariste-de-Forsyth

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