New Orford riding a resounding no
Unanimity between Péquistes and Liberals is rare in this province, but both parties are dead set against adding more towns and villages from the Richmond riding to the Orford riding.
This was what the only journalist present at the Valcourt hearing of the Commission de la Représentation Électorale, held last Wednesday, can report. Only fifteen members of the electors were present. There was a hockey game at the same time and, when people must choose between the rights of the people to be fairly represented and those multi-millionaires on the ice, chasing a rubber puck, everyone knows where to be.
The meeting is part of the ongoing mandated process to review riding’s borders every second election, respecting some basic fairly accepted rules, one of them being that ridings should not be too disproportionate in the numbers of electors.
Marie-Ève Ringuette, the director general of Quebec, true to her accountant background, almost inundated the sparse public with more numbers than the commission could swallow, the public befuddled. Yet, she could prove to the commission, headed by the Directeur Général des Élections, Mrs. Lucie Fiset, that
participation in towns and villages that are constantly shuffled drops significantly and is well below the average of the riding. Mrs. Fiset is seconded by two noted commissioners: Dr. Serge Courville is a geographer and Dr. Bruno Jean is a sociologist.
The last redraw saw the addition of villages east of Mount Orford, up to Lawrenceville. This year’s proposal would add villages along route 243 to Valcourt. As noted by Robert Benoît, the former Liberal MNA, it takes more than an hour and fifteen minutes to reach Valcourt. Not as bad as MéganticCompton-Stanstead was at the federal level in the 90’s, but close.
Everybody agreed that adding that region bordered on the insane. From Orford, well known Liberal environmentalist Jean-Guy Dépôt wondered why these towns were included in the riding, sentiments echoed by all from the concerned cities who, while they did not speak as long as Mr. Dépôt, showed the same bewilderment.
And as the only female contributor was seen having a long fraternal chat with former PQ candidate Michel Breton, who was sitting next to Mr. Benoît and behind Mr. Dépôt, and who hails from Lawrenceville and is also against the proposal, we can presume that the proposal put forward by the Commission is opposed by both the governing party and the opposition.
Last to speak on the scheduled list was Mr. Benoit. Orford’s MNA for eleven years, knowledgeable on the workings of these commissions, his message was clear: this was not good for Orford and worse for the region, he said. He told the commission that the riding has changed boundaries too many times. Mr. Benoît, who told the Stanstead Journal that he had gone to every meeting held when his riding was being redrawn, doesn’t understand how the commission could have arrived at this proposal.
But the Directeur Général des Élections, Mrs. Lucie Fiset, told us that the process was not final and, as she repeated time and time over and again, the commission is looking for proposals
Former Liberal MNA Robert Benoît addressing the commission.
Commission members: Georgapher Serge Courville, Lucie Fiset and Bruno Jean, a sociologist.