Si­mard cheered and jeered

The Glengarry News - - Front Page -

A prin­ci­pled stand or a fool­ish fit of pique? As ex­pected, Amanda Si­mard’s de­ci­sion to sit as an in­de­pen­dent sparked mixed re­ac­tion from her con­stituents.

The Glen­garry-Prescott-Rus­sell MPP, who was elected in June, was praised by many when she left the rul­ing Con­ser­va­tive party to protest cuts to French-lan­guage ser­vices. How­ever, oth­ers com­plained she erred when she left the Tory cau­cus over the can­cel­la­tion of a pro­posed French-lan­guage uni­ver­sity and the trans­fer of the French-lan­guage ser­vices com­mis­sioner’s bureau to the Om­buds­man’s of­fice.

On so­cial me­dia, many vot­ers ex­pressed

dis­ap­point­ment with her de­ci­sion to defy Pre­mier Doug Ford.

“The peo­ple that put her in of­fice voted for the Con­ser­va­tive Party. She has shunned her con­stituents,” Carol Scott Bell­ware wrote on The News Face­book page.

Pierre Lau­zon com­mented, “I don’t think that this is the way for her to change Ford’s de­ci­sion.”

Dave MacDonald called Ms. Si­mard a “one-term won­der,” ob­serv­ing, “How can you pos­si­bly rep­re­sent the peo­ple who elected you sit­ting on the back bench for al­most the next four years. Good luck with that!”

Carol-Kevin Row­land-Nixon echoed those sen­ti­ments: “We elected her to rep­re­sent our rid­ing. We didn’t elect an in­de­pen­dent. She would have served bet­ter to stay and fight where she was.”

Garry Harper was more blunt: “Good rid­dance to a per­son who was not a team player now she will not be able to get funds as an in­de­pen­dent.”

Alice Willems shared that view. “I have no idea what she stands for other than her own self-in­ter­est,” she said. “She would be more ef­fec­tive for the fran­co­phone com­mu­nity here by work­ing from within; now she has no voice, es­pe­cially as an in­de­pen­dent. She ba­si­cally ran away.”

Pat Smith, how­ever, com­mented: “Bravo for stand­ing up for the peo­ple who elected you and not blindly fol­low­ing Ford. It took guts and if I lived in your rid­ing I would be proud to have you rep­re­sent me.”

Gus Mas­sia said: “I ap­plaud any MPP who voices her con­cern even if they are against their own party. I wish there were more like her but un­for­tu­nately she went too far by go­ing as an in­de­pen­dent.” Ms. Si­mard could have ac­com­plished more as a party mem­ber, he con­tended. “Now, she’ll have no clout or voice.”

‘A pipe dream’

The same as­sess­ment came from Do­minic Thau­vette. “I have lost con­fi­dence in her, as she could have made more of a dif­fer­ence within the party then just be­ing an in­de­pen­dent as now her vote will not carry any weight.” He de­fended the gov­ern­ment’s stance, say­ing that, in abol­ish­ing the com­mis­sioner’s of­fice, the Pre­mier wanted to cut red tape. By hav­ing the com­mis­sioner work un­der the Om­buds­man, com­plaints would be ad­dressed more quickly, he added. The French-lan­guage uni­ver­sity “was a pipe dream” and be­cause of the $15 bil­lion deficit cre­ated by the for­mer Lib­eral gov­ern­ment, the prov­ince can­not af­ford it. “I would take one of the ex- ist­ing uni­ver­si­ties and con­vert it into a fran­co­phone uni­ver­sity only as that will cost less than ac­tu­ally build­ing one from the ground up.”

Ms. Si­mard has re­ceived sup­port from politi­cians at all lev­els.

Glen­garry- Prescott- Rus­sell Lib­eral MP Fran­cis Drouin com­mented: “For the past two weeks, our Franco-On­tar­ian com­mu­nity has been in a cri­sis. This cri­sis comes down to the de­ci­sions of the Ford gov­ern­ment. It is clear that Mr. Ford and the Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment do not un­der­stand the his­tory and the re­al­ity of Franco-On­tar­i­ans. Mr. Ford does not un­der­stand his con­sti­tu­tional obli­ga­tions to our com­mu­nity.” He noted that Ms. Si­mard “tried to con­vince the Ford gov­ern­ment to over­turn these de­ci­sions.” Her move “wll not only res­onate in the Franco-On­tar­ian com­mu­nity, but also in Fran­co­phone and Aca­dian com­mu­ni­ties through­out the coun­try for decades to come. I sup­port and I am proud of Ms. Si­mard.”

Mean­while, the Pre­mier told re­porters that the Con­ser­va­tive party is “more united than we've ever been.”

The Pre­mier’s spokesper­son, Si­mon Jef­fries, said: “We wish Amanda Si­mard well as she sits as an in­de­pen­dent. It's un­for­tu­nate that she chose not to work within gov­ern­ment in ser­vice to her con­stituents.”

PHOTO FRANCINE DIGNARD

RESISTANCE: Demon­stra­tors con­verged on the Cornwall of­fice of MPP Jim McDonell Satur­day.

FRANCINE DIGNARD PHOTO

PARTY LINE: MPP Jim McDonell was booed when he re­peated the party line.

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