Or­ford up for grabs - clos­est race in years

Stanstead Journal - - NEWS BRIEFS - Staff, Or­ford

Signs that this elec­toral cam­paign is one of the clos­est to call in Or­ford abounds as the in­cum­bent, Lib­eral Pierre Reid, in his weekly press con­fer­ence, is forced to hit the same nail again and again. As in the great Demo­crat strate­gist James Carville’s phrase, coined in 1992, that got Bill Clin­ton elected: The econ­omy is stupid! Part one of three themes, the other two be­ing: “Change vs. more of the same” and “Don’t for­get health care”, these two hav­ing been taken stock and bar­rel by the newly founded Coali­tion Avenir Québec. As if any­thing is new.

So week af­ter week, the as­sem­bled press is bom­barded by more num­bers than Ein­stein could muster in a day’s work by Mr. Reid who, it should be re­mem­bered, is a math­e­ma­ti­cian. Still, it is when num­bers are set aside that he shines, as was the case last week when he talked emo­tion­ally of his work on the Se­lect Com­mit­tee on Dy­ing with Dig­nity, the shin­ing light of the last Par­lia­ment, where ev­ery M.N.A. worked to­gether in a show of dig­nity that was miss­ing al­most ev­ery day at the Na­tional Assem­bly for the last cou­ple of years.

If Mr. Reid is in re-elec­tion mode, his main and only true op­po­nent, PQ Michel Bre­ton, is in elec­tion mode. Run­ning for the third time, he told a small gath­er­ing of or­ga­niz­ers and sym­pa­thiz­ers last week-end that for the first time he is get­ting some recog­ni­tion and is be­ing stopped in the street by vot­ers. “It’s not some­thing that I saw dur­ing my pre­vi­ous cam­paign.” The gloomy look of the lo­cal péquistes, ac­cus­tomed to los­ing at the start of ev­ery elec­tion for decades, is gone and re­placed by a calm­ness and sense of pur­pose that was sim­ply never there be­fore. On that Satur­day, Mr. Bre­ton had two guests: Daniel Paillé, for­mer PQ min­is­ter, and Bloc Québé­cois Chief and PQ star, for­mer Ra­dioCanada jour­nal­ist Bernard Drainville, the pain in the back­side of Madame Marois. Mr. Drainville im­posed his idea of a Cal­i­for­nia style ref­er­en­dum, ex­cept that his leader is not quite sure if it’s a Cal­i­for­nia style demo­cratic ex­er­cise or some­thing else. Any­how, the PQ who has al­ways re­fused to abide to the Cana­dian con­sti­tu­tion, is now re­ly­ing on it to de­clare that a bind­ing pop­u­lar vote ref­er­en­dum would not be bind­ing at the Na­tional Assem­bly. It would take 850,000 vot­ers names to put a ref­er­en­dum in mo­tion ac­cord­ing to the PQ scheme. While Mrs. Marois has al­ways talked of a reg­is­ter, Mr. Drainville, ques­tioned by the Stanstead Jour­nal, said that since ev­ery­thing is go­ing elec­tronic, an on­line reg­is­ter would also be ac­cept­able.

We asked him the ob­vi­ous ques­tion that no one had asked be­fore: What if the fed­er­al­ist side de­cided to go through the process ask­ing if Que­beck­ers wanted to re­main in Canada? From the look on his face, the thought had never crossed his mind.

As the bridge school is­sue made the news last week, we asked him if his party wanted to dis­avow Bill 115 or only the part of that law that per­tained to those schools. We had to ex­plain that the law con­tained pro­vi­sions per­tain­ing to the pen­sion funds of Bishop’s Col­lege School and Stanstead Col­lege. He was not aware of that and stated that he didn’t want any­thing taken from any­one. The Stanstead Jour­nal asked for clar­i­fi­ca­tion that was sup­posed to be pro­vided yes­ter­day. None came.

And if the na­tional de­bates were bois­ter­ous, the lo­cal one on the econ­omy was a gen­tle­man’s af­fair, with the ladies get­ting the laugh. Or­ga­nized by the Ma­gog – and now- Or­ford Cham­ber of Com­merce, it was sparsely at­tended, with a third of the seats on the first floor of Le Vieux Clocher left empty. Mr. Reid, a study in com­po­sure usu­ally, was a tad ner­vous, speak­ing faster than usual. Mr. Bre­ton, on the other hand, was sure and his re­sponses were tai­lored to a lo­cal au­di­ence. Mr. L’Écuyer of the CAQ

was a mix of stan­dard party an­swers mixed with a bit of ques­tion­ing in lo­cal is­sues such as the so-called Sin­gle Door for lo­cal en­trepreneurs that is the forte of his party’s plat­form, both Mr. Reid and Mr. Bre­ton re­ply­ing al­most to­gether that the CLD was do­ing pre­cisely that job. Both Op­tion Na­tionale Marie-Hélène Martin and third time run­ning Québec Sol­idaire Patricia Trem­blay mouthed their par­ties’ plat­forms, the lat­ter get­ting the first of two laughs of the rather bor­ing de­bate when she said, talk­ing about tourism: “You can see me com­ing…” and then went on to talk about the pub­lic trans­port part of her party plat­form.

Parti Que­be­cois can­di­date Michel Bre­ton talks to an au­di­ence at a party, last Sun­day, in Ma­gog. Seen in the back­ground are PQ star can­di­date Bernard Drainville and the pres­i­dent of the Bloc Que­be­cois, Daniel Paillé.

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