Simard cheered and jeered
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.”
RESISTANCE: Demonstrators converged on the Cornwall office of MPP Jim McDonell Saturday.
PARTY LINE: MPP Jim McDonell was booed when he repeated the party line.