November 1st, 2009
It's election day, today. Thanks to all of those who have supported me all the way through this campaign and thanks in advance to all the constituents of Aylmer District who will cast their vote for me today.
Alea jacta est.
Photo: Jacek Sokolowski
To reach me:
Bureau des conseillers
Maison du Citoyen
C. P. 1970, succ. Hull
Gatineau, QC J8X 3Y9
It's election day, today. Thanks to all of those who have supported me all the way through this campaign and thanks in advance to all the constituents of Aylmer District who will cast their vote for me today.
Alea jacta est.
It would seem my opponent is interpreting my October 16 blog entry so as to position himself as a victim. I will try to simply explain myself so that there is no room for interpretation:
1- It is an old politician trick to put in ones review all of the realizations that happened in ones district or constituency, whether one was involved in them or not. The replacement of the marina’s docks was not carried out with the help of Julie Murray’s photos, whether my opponent likes it or not. See my previous blog entry on the subject.
2- No one is against virtue and I am sure that my opponent is sincere when he talks of protecting green spaces. What bothers me is that during his four year mandate, never did we receive a word of encouragement from him and he never participated in the public activities of the Boucher Forest Foundation, notably the big annual cleanup. The outgoing councillor could have been a strong voice in regards to the Boucher forest. But after four years of silence, he nonetheless includes it in his platform.
3- The relocation of Canadian Tire would have two harmful effects: first, it would contribute to emptying our “downtown” (and all agree that, on the contrary, we need to promote local services); second, it would add another commercial structure between Aylmer and Hull. There are many of us who do not want des Allumettières boulevard to become another Maloney boulevard.
4- Now for the Des Allumettières Park-and-Ride. Many residents of the sector who were opposed to the creation of an incentive parking lot were outraged that the register to contest the creation of the Park-and-Ride was opened at the Maison du Citoyen (Hull sector) and not at the Aylmer service Centre. Finally, I never accused my opponent of trying to bribe residents. Instead, I wanted to show his lack of leadership on the issue. One cannot be both for and against the project.
5- The famous Bancroft street: Once again my remarks were distorted. Regardless of who is elected, Bancroft street will undergo repairing in 2010. Already, in 2005, the councillor was predicting the repair of Bancroft street. What would have been nice, however, is that the residents of Bancroft street and their councillor mobilize themselves to replace the existing asphalt sidewalk not by a concrete sidewalk, but rather by a stone sidewalk, like Principal street, to give Bancroft a distinct style.
6- A small clarification: As I write my own texts, it is certain that I spend time in front of my computer. But at the time when I sit down to write, usually dawn, it is too early to ring at my fellow citizens’ doors.
In closing, do we really want to reelect a councillor who recycles promises that he has not able to keep, who declared on public radio (September 22, 2009) that a bridge in Deschênes would be the priority for his next mandate and who proclaimed in the middle of the debate at the British Hotel (October 19) that we need a hospital in Aylmer?
My answer is NO.
But it is ultimately the voter who will decide.
The replacement of the Aylmer marina’s docks
On October 1st, I spent an hour and a half in the company of Mr. Antoine Rose, commodore of the Club de voile Grande-Rivière. After a brief historical, I was entitled to a visit of the marina and its facilities and to an overview of its activities. We discussed the CVGR’s challenges and his vision of what the marina, beach and des Cèdres Park could be.
During our conversation, Mr. Rose informed me that the support the City of Gatineau granted to the CVGR for the replacement of the docks (and which comes to 5% in all and for all of the total costs) was the result of the work of Deschênes councillor (3), Alain Riel, and the intervention of Mayor Bureau. Here is Antoine Rose’s full letter, published in the September 23, 2009 Aylmer Bulletin in response to an article published by Julie Murray in the September 9, 2009 edition. You will notice that Mr. Rose thanks the Deschênes councillor (3) and the Mayor, but that he makes no mention of the Aylmer district councillor (1), although that is where the marina is located.
« Marina d’Aylmer, corrigeons les faits.
Dans sa dernière édition, Le Bulletin d’Aylmer publiait un article sous la plume de Julie Murray intitulé « Les plaisanciers sont mécontents de la Marina ». Dans cet article, Mme Murray prête sa plume à un plaisancier mécontent, M. Després. Cet article contient plusieurs affirmations qui auraient méritées d’être vérifiées par la journaliste.
La plus importante rectification nécessaire est celle-ci. Le remplacement des quais de la marina a coûté 750 000 dollars (et non pas 75 000 $) en dehors des coûts du financement bancaire. La ville de Gatineau a fait une contribution à l’achat des quais qui s’élève à moins de 5% de tous les coûts. Pourtant, malgré le fait que les membres du Club de voile Grande-Rivière (CVGR) doivent payer 95% des coûts de remplacement, c’est la ville qui est propriétaire de tous les quais, comme de toutes les autres installations d’ailleurs, incluant la capitainerie qui a été construite et payée par les membres du CVGR et donnée à la Ville de Gatineau.
Dans le processus de remplacement, ce sont les bénévoles du CVGR (un organisme sans but lucratif) qui se sont occupé des démarches auprès du ministère de l’Environnement, de l’appel d’offre et de la gestion du projet. Tous les frais d’entretien et de réparation sont entièrement à la charge du CVGR. Le principe fondateur de l’entente entre la ville de Gatineau et le CVGR est celui de l’utilisateur payeur. Toutes les améliorations récentes effectuées aux installations de la marina (construction de la capitainerie, remplacement des quais, réfection de la grue, achat d’une bouée de chenal) ont été pour l’essentiel payées par les membres du CVGR. Les citoyens de la Ville doivent être fier de ce qui a été fait par le CVGR pour l’amélioration des lieux. Et si le remplacement des quais a pu être possible, c’est grâce au soutien du conseiller Alain Riel et du maire Bureau qui ont su rallier leurs collègues.
En revanche, les utilisateurs de la descente publique n’ont rien, absolument rien à débourser pour l’utilisation de la descente (qui sera bientôt rénovée au coût de 200 000$, entièrement aux frais des contribuables) et ne contribuent en rien aux frais d’entretien ou d’amélioration du site. Lorsque les quais ont été remplacés, la ville a demandé au CVGR de prélever, parmi les vieux quais, celui qui était en meilleur état et de l’installer en tant que quai des visiteurs. En faisant cela, le CVGR a ajouté une série d’aiguillettes qui ont augmenté la capacité d’accueil du quai des visiteurs. Le CVGR paiera pendant les vingt-cinq prochaines années le remplacement de quais qui ne lui appartiennent pas. Aurait-il fallu qu’il paie aussi pour remplacer le quai des utilisateurs de la descente qui eux ne déboursent pas un sou ?
Hormis le fait d’en devenir le propriétaire, une des raisons pour lesquelles la ville a défrayé une partie des frais de remplacement a été de dédommager le CVGR pour les inconvénients occasionnés par les utilisateurs de la descente, en particulier le bruit, les vagues et les déversements assez fréquents d’essence dans le bassin en provenance de la descente. Les vagues et l’essence ont pour effet d’accélérer l’usure des quais. On passe sous silence le non-respect des règles de sécurité et de courtoisie. On se fait parfois insulter quand on demande simplement de réduire la vitesse de circulation dans le bassin et dans le chenal d’accès.
Le CVGR ne conteste pas un instant le principe d’utilisateur-payeur. Nous sommes fiers de ce que nous avons réalisé et dont la population profite. Je serais même ravi de pouvoir accueillir M. Després dans nos locaux et pouvoir discuter avec lui de l’application de ce même principe aux utilisateurs de la descente, et de lui expliquer pourquoi la vente d’essence ne serait pas rentable.
Commodore du Club de voile Grande-Rivière »
This morning the Le Droit newspaper presented the fight in the Aylmer district as a well-suited rivalry (in French) between my opponent and me. As well, the article echoes the Group of five’s agenda. I also invite you to read the dissenting opinion of a resident of Wychwood published in the pages of this week’s Aylmer Bulletin in response to the letter of appreciation that was published last week by the Friends of Wychwood: Juniper Street: Thanks, but No Thanks!
At 9:30 am, Mireille Apollon, Pierre Ducasse, Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin, Nycole Turmel and I met up in a cafe to look over the course of events of our last press conference. At 11:15 am, we delivered our last common message to journalists. The news was picked up by Radio-Canada, TVA, CJRC, Le Droit, the Revue de Gatineau and a few others. Today’s Ottawa Citizen, through the pen of David Rogers, paints a portrait of Projet Gatineau and discusses the Group of Five. I encourage you to read our press release, entitled “Il faut un conseil fort” (in French). Obviously, we need to be part of it!
Five new lawn signs, today, the result of word-of-mouth between neighbours and my door-to-door. Tomorrow, final press conference of the Group of Five. We will present a review of our campaign.
Some hundred doors in Wychwood this afternoon, after having cast my ballot. A beautiful neighbourhood full of mature trees which is yielding votes. Five new lawn signs will appear tomorrow. And everyone of them at houses of strangers! Then, at around 5 pm, I went to Greg and Julie’s for a wine and cheese. They had invited some of their friends so that we could get acquainted in a friendly atmosphere. This campaign will have given me the opportunity to meet wonderful people!
Today: Advance polling from noon to 8 pm, at the Ernest-Lattion Centre, 30 Court Street.
Another busy day. Thanks to Marco and Éric for their work this morning on the signs. During my door-to-door, I met Charles Hart, who I briefly worked with at Canadian Heritage, during a contract that I did for the department at the end of 2005. We worked together to prepare a procedures Handbook and we got along very well. We talked a while about the corner of Jupiter and Hemlock, in front of the famous bicycle path which resembles, it must be said, more like a road.
I also met a resident who uses coroplast panels (the same material as my large 4 x 8 signs) to produce heat through solar energy. The heat is then transferred to a plastic tube that leads to his air exchanger. He gets amazing results. I was very happy to find someone who will be able to recycle my signs. I will thus reduce my ecological footprint.
Tomorrow, advance polling. I will be there at noon to cast my ballot and to greet some people. But I will spend the rest of the day continuing my door-to-door.
I received my first impertinent e-mail tonight. A resident of Wychwood who says she is outraged by the tone of my comments about the outgoing councillor. I replied politely to her using her language. She accuses me of lampoon and reproaches me of not letting my visitors insult me on my own website and facebook page. I persist and sign. I rely on facts and my opponent’s public statements. I am entitled to my opinion and the freedom of expression that is still a fundamental value in this country. And if she wants to express her own and pour out her gall on me, she need only start a blog or a website. There are limits to self-flagellation. And it would be important to not confuse criticism and insult. On a happier note, thank you to the 18 allies that have sent me words of encouragement today.
The outgoing councillor responds to my October 16 blog in which I question elements of his electoral platform. “Ok, now my opponent is starting to show his true colours”, he writes. We would like it if he showed us his, his own true colours, rather than promising, as he did again Monday evening, “a moratorium on construction” (a promise he already made in 2005 and that he obviously has not been able to fulfill) or a hospital in Aylmer! Need I point out that he also stated on Radio-Canada (Bernier et Cie, September 22, 2009) that the construction of a bridge in Deschênes would be his priority? It is not as if I am inventing this! If these are not the facts, then I wonder what they are... One thing is certain, we do not have the same definition of the word “insult”. An outgoing candidate should expect to be questioned about his “record” and his public pronouncements by the citizens that he represents. And, whether he likes it or not, before being a candidate for the office of district councillor, I am a taxpayer of the Aylmer district electoral and a disappointed citizen.
An afternoon of door-to-door in Wychwood. At 6 pm, I stopped by APICA’s monthly 6 to 8 which was being held at the Château Symmes, a beautiful retirement residence, where we were greeted by the executive director, Claudette Desmarais, and her team. Back home at 7 pm for a family meal before welcoming my campaign team. At 10 pm, we made the rounds of what remains to be done before D-day. Tomorrow morning, strategic meeting with my official agent.
Yesterday’s debate went well. The room was crowded and it gave me the opportunity to present myself to many people. The mass distribution of my platform, Saturday morning, hit the bull’s eye. I spoke with voters at the beginning and end of the evening and made several allies. Judging by the reaction of the room to my interventions, I was up to the task. This afternoon, I was invited to Mise à jour – Daniel Séguin’s program that is broadcast on Canal Vox at 6:30 pm - along with Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin.
Apart from some short documents that needed to be translated on behalf of a client, I spent the day preparing myself for tonight’s debate that is hosted by APICA at the British Hotel. Twelve questions, eleven candidates, responses limited to one minute and one last minute to get his or her message across.
This morning, feeling well rested from yesterday, my father and I put up some thirty signs in strategic locations. We took the occasion to remind ourselves of everything that we have done together and to have a good laugh. I have always been able to count on my parents unfailing support. They have passed on their solicitude and their spirit of sharing to me. I owe them a lot Quite a lot. These past four weekends, my mother has come to lend us a hand at home and my father, among other things, has taken care of preparing my yard for the winter. I will not see him again before the election, as he will be hunting with my brother. My mother and aunt will be among my telephone operators on D-day.
In the afternoon, I went door-to-door in Wychwood. Ringing at people’s doors after having dropped off a brochure, the day before, gives good results. Tomorrow, Éric will have a half dozen lawn signs to install.
Up at 5 am, this Saturday morning, to prepare my distribution list. At 9 am, my team of volunteers had arrived. 40 residents of my district, friends, allies and even some people that I had never met! In teams of two, we spread out over the district, so that by noon, most of my fellow citizens had a printed version of the text that summarizes my platform in their mailboxes. This type of mobilization exercise creates links and I must say that I felt supported, that I felt touched by this gesture of solidarity. Thank you with all my heart!
At around 10:30 am, in the middle of our blitz, I took a little break to say hello to Marius Laflamme and his team, who were celebrating the Marché Laflamme’s 67 years of existence, founded by his grandfather, and the official reopening of this strong neighbourhood establishment on Principale street!
I would also regret not telling you about the official opening, also this Saturday, of the William J. Walter Saucissier that has a storefront at 104 Principale street, which is owned by Julie Pomerleau, a resident of our district. Best of luck for our proud merchants!
I finished today in a neighbourhood that I have been working for the last few days. I received my fill of support for my candidacy and even if many of the people I met have been long-time Aylmer residents, that didn’t stop them from telling me many times over Rtthat they feel it is time for a change. Nobody is fooled anymore by declarations of the sort like ‘I was born and raised in District 1’. That is the kind of declaration used when there is neither a record to defend nor any new ideas to offer. It is even more embarrassing when there is no understanding the issues facing the district, when there hasn’t been any communication with citizens over the last four years and when someone relies on their notoriety to get re-elected.
Let’s put an issue to rest right away: I wasn’t born and raised in Aylmer. Like many of my fellow citizens, for that matter. Rather, I chose to settle here with my family, create my own business and get involved in a unique community. The exclusionary discourse of my adversary, while appearing benign, insidiously creates two classes of citizen (on one side, the sons and daughters of the nation, and on the other, the outsider) and must be denounced. The mere fact of being born here or practicing the politics of ‘father to son’ is hardly enough to make a candidate a good councilor. History has shown us that, often as not, the son doesn’t measure up to his father.
In his pamphlet that has been distributed by volunteers, my opponent unscrupulously notes among his achievements that he ‘ started the discussions on the new quays at the Aylmer marina’ (tell that to the board of directors of the Club de voile de Grand Rivière, to see if they appreciate how the incumbent councilor has found a way to take credit for the purchase of the new quays!). My opponent also says that he ‘believes that we must protect our green spaces and our environment, including the Boucher Forest.’ In the 2 years that I have been Vice-President of the Boucher Forest Foundation, we have never seen the councilor at any of our activities, nor heard a single word from him about the work that we are doing. And this is same ‘proenvironment’ guy who has publicly declared his support for moving the Canadian Tire to the corner of Vanier Street and des Allumettières. Please, can someone call a truce on good intentions and paradoxes!
Do you want to hear even more? The incumbent indicates in his list of projects to finalize ‘the park’n ride at the corner of Eardley Road and Hautes-Rives.’ Amazing when we know that he has juggled with this hot potato without a clue what to do and once proposed financial assistance to citizens who oppose the park’n ride (from his discretionary budget) without ever taking a clear position on the issue. What do they say? A pinwheel spinning with the wind? And another : ‘paving and sidewalks on Bancroft Street’. I invite you to go visit the painter, Jacques Desgagnés, on Bancroft Street (a nice little sign points out to his studio) to ask him what he thinks about promises of paving a few weeks before the election. At the same time, you will find that the street is painted blue (the colour of my campaign). Oh and by the way, you could take the opportunity to ask Jacques to let you have a look at his latest canvases.
The incumbent talks also of the ‘creation of a long-awaited dog-park’ – no doubt a reaction to petition I launched in September for a dog-park (the conversion of the hilly portion of Woods Park into a fenced dog-park that would be administered by an association of dog owners). Thanks to Manon Bernier, whose help has been inestimable in this endeavour, we now have over 300 signatures from residents of Wychwood, Old Alymer, and other neighbourhoods in the district. Go ask dog owners who meet on the hill for how many years it has been since the incumbent promised them such a dog-park!
And a last one? In his ‘Issues and projects to finalize’ section, he writes that he wants the City to adopt ‘regulations against cutting down trees without permits.’ Last week, two century-old trees on Thomas Street were cut down. For a number of years now, the residents of Wychwood and other citizens have been pressuring the city for the re-instatement of a city by-law that would make it mandatory to get a permit before cutting down a tree. In this way, the City would be forced to get its experts out into the field to inspect the heath of the tree and the potential security risks it poses to people and property before authorizing its destruction – an act that would only be permitted under strict criteria. In four years, the incumbent has been incapable of delivering on this straightforward file, despite the strong support of a committed residents association and for which, if he had had any success, we would have been grateful. Do we have to point out that the incumbent sits on the Consultative Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development? Aylmer should be leading the way in protecting our environment but to do so would mean having a councilor who is capable to delivery the goods.
Finally, this is what he incumbent promised in the Aylmer Bulletin on September 28, 2005: ‘We should declare a moratorium on construction until we have the infrastructure to absorb it.’ This is the same councilor, who almost 4 years later to the day, in an September 22, 2009 interview on Bernier and Company on CBC Radio One, said ‘Let’s say that there is too much construction at the moment because the services aren’t there, but we should declare a moratorium on construction until we have the services.’ Need I say more?
But the icing on the cake is the incumbent’s statement, (no doubt a premonition for a councilor who boasts about being on city council for the last 14 years): ‘The councilors have been there for far too long and they have become self-satisfied and smug.’ I’m not making this up!
Some new signs of your candidate have appeared today in the heart of Old Aylmer. And the group of five has struck again, this morning. I encourage you to read our release on fiscal concerns: « Appel aux candidats à la mairie : « augmenter les taxes foncières n’est pas la seule solution ! » (in French).
The long weekend was used for a very extensive door-to-door blitz. I encourage you to pass by Bancroft street to see firsthand the wave of support that my friend Monique’s work has helped me achieve. Her remarkable effort on the groud has really paid off! I also received a call from a new ally, who had worked for my opponent in 2005. Not only did I receive her support, but she also offered to go door-to-door in her neighbourhood, to the doors of Wychwood. I am really touched that my candidacy rallies so many people!
The recent weeks’ door-to-door canvassing is bearing fruit and is working to strengthen my support. I received very positive feedback on my electoral platform and my website and answered emails from people who wanted to know my position on specific issues. I thus won over some more voters. Late afternoon, before meeting up with an old friend, I dropped by some friends’ of mine who reside in my district, Emmanuel and Mireille whose family has been graced with a new member, with the birth of little Romi, who is rather adorable, four weeks ago, to leave them a sign and to spend some time discussing the next steps with them.
I received my final signs this morning, and my second electoral card, which summarizes my priorities for the district of Aylmer, in the afternoon. Monique is lending me a hand with the electoral list. The cross referencing that she is doing will help us harmonize our efforts for the telephone reminders for the advance polling on October 25 and the November 1st ballot. We also have a team meeting this coming Monday evening, barely a week away from the APICA’s debate.
An excellent day for going door-to-door, today. It must be said that last night’s evening, spent at the Bistro Ambrosia (steps away from my place) with allies who have become friends, has given me impetus and has allowed me to add to my campaign fund. Campaigns are demanding – all those who have had the experience will tell you so –, but I can tell you that they also bind people together.
Speaking of solidarity, I receive daily support in various forms : requests for signs, additions to my list of partisans through my website, emails and phone calls. On the ground, people are well receiving the dynamism and renewal that I am putting forward.
I announced today in a statement my priorities for the district of Aylmer. I invite you to take a few moments to familiarize yourself with my program and to contact me should you have any questions or suggestions.
My day in numbers: 236 doors in a little over 6 hours, 12 lawn signs, 4 donations of $ 100, 3 new supporters through my website and promises of backing, which for obvious reasons, I will not relate here! And there are 25 days remaining to the campaign!
My friends Pierre and Éric once again devoted their Sunday morning to me, the time to install large road signs and lawn signs. In the afternoon, André Couture, my friend and official agent, rallied several of his neighbours (signs, cards, promises of backing). If the support I received on his street in Wychwood is indicative of what is happening throughout the district, the results of the November 1st elections might just surprise the skeptics! The face of Aylmer has changed. We have the opportunity of demonstrating this, in 27 days.
This morning I participated in a jury for the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec. As I signed a confidentiality agreement, for the time being I cannot say more. I’ll come back to it in due course. My campaign signs are starting to appear on the lawns of my constituents. Tomorrow, four large 4 x 8 signs will make their appearance on the terrain. Meanwhile, meetings and door-to-door canvassing, while my team sifts through the voters list.
The CRCO has published today a press release entitled « Le Conseil régional de la culture de l’Outaouais fier d’appuyer le surnommé groupe des 5 » (The CRCO is proud to support those known as the group of five). This public support comes just at the right moment and hopefully will encourage the media to take an interest in what is happening in the districts.
This morning I received a phone call from Joseph, one of my clients from Aylmer who lives on Klock road. Joseph is part of a management team for a mining company that does business in northern Quebec with the Innu. In recent years, I have been translating their backgrounders, agreements, letters, etc. He called me after having seen one of my large signs to spontaneously make a personal donation to my campaign. We thus met for the first time in person, over coffee. And we had the opportunity of talking about something other than our usual work-related topics.
I also issued, late this morning, a press release (in French) in response to the content of the “Cahier platine de la culture”, unveiled Tuesday by the CRCO. I invite you to acquaint yourself with the positions and commitments I take on the cultural question. My comrades Mireille Apollon, Pierre Ducasse, Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin and Nycole Turmel gave me their support.
By early evening, I spent a half hour with Antoine Rose, the commodore of the Club de voile Grande-Rivière. I was granted a tour of the premises (the harbour authority, sailing school, new docks, boat ramp) which had me see the marina in a new light. Mr. Rose gave me a brief history of the club and explained his vision in great detail to me – shared by the members of the CVGR – of what the revitalization of the marina and the Des Cèdres park should be. The Club, which recently invested $ 750,000 for the installation and construction of new docks (equipped with electrical contacts) received in all and from the entire city support in the order of 5 %. Mr. Rose stressed the fact that the Club does adhere to the user pay principal, but also stressed that in accordance with an agreement concluded with the city, Gatineau owns the marina facilities, including the harbour authority (built at a cost of $ 250,000), which received the 2004 Prix Orange from the Société d’histoire de l’Outaouais, and the new docks. The commodore and I share the same opinions in regards to the poor quality of the marina’s restaurant and the commercial dimension that some would give this place that is full of promise. Principale street, which is steps away, seems like an obvious place to accommodate shops and boutiques, of which some could specialize in boating and outdoor activities. This would be consistent with the work being undertaken for the revitalization of the street, which need to go beyond the mere basic infrastructure.
I spent part of the day putting the finishing touches to the final documents that need to be printed for my campaign. All that I can say is that I will be everywhere! I also had a brief meeting with Éric St-Pierre, who is giving a big hand with my signs. We settled the details of our strategy. This weekend, a great exercise in visibility in all neighbourhoods. The big jib is ready for the wind of change that is blowing through the district of Aymer.
Press conference for the Conseil régional de la culture de l'Outaouais (CRCO) this morning, to unveil its “Cahier platine de la culture”, which offers very interesting thoughts on the major cultural issues (some fifteen articles authored in particular by Michel-Rémi Lafond, Richard Bégin and Guy Jean). Of the thirty-seven candidates officially running as of today, only my colleague Pierre Ducasse and I were present. I had the opportunity of speaking with Louis Cabral, director of arts, culture and literature, about the Lucy-Farris library, one of the three most attended of the greater city. I spoke of the importance of retaining it in the heart of Old Aylmer, near schools and the community. I am preparing a press briefing in which I will respond to the CRCO’s press release and take position on the cultural issues.
Lunch at Moca Loca with Annick, this afternoon, who among other things is working on my list of supporters. It’s amazing the amount of people one knows when one takes the time to think about it. This reminds me of a theory that I find fascinating, that of the six degrees of separation, pronounced in 1929 and that suggests that everyone on the planet is connected to any other person by a chain of individual relationships of at most five other links. Facebook is a good example of how this is true.
After yesterday’s very enjoyable spit-roast at my friends Mika and Emina’s place, I am back to my campaign this morning with a meeting to discuss strategy and timeline. The fifty allies that answered my call this week will be made use of in all sorts of ways (that I will not mention here for obvious reasons). I also phoned a few influential people that I will be meeting this week to discuss specific issues and to get their support. On the ground, things are going smoothly, even though sometimes I feel as though I am putting up a strong fight against the force of inertia on which my opponent is relying.
I spent the afternoon in two neighbourhoods, Old Aylmer and Des Cèdres, where I gathered many supporters. We talked about road safety, the neglect of the Des Cèdres park and shoreline, access to the river for sailing dinghies and, especially, of the importance for a councillor to make him or herself available and to answer voters phone calls and e-mails. In this regard, I assure people that they can count on my widerange experience as a communicator.
In the evening, I had supper at St.Mark the Evangelist church, with the Cool-Fergus family. My friend Greg was in Germany with a delegation to observe the elections that led Angela Merkel back in power, at the head of a coalition that is more right than the previous government. His wife Julie and their three children, Sarah, Benjamin and Alexandra, the eldest (who is also my daughter’s English tutor), welcomed me at their table along with some of their friends. We talked about the problems caused by heavy traffic, public transportation solutions that we should privilege, the emergence of street gangs and the protection of green spaces. It was refreshing to hear young peoples points of view, especially in regards to public transportation. The spaghetti-dinner (the parishioners’ homemade sauce was very good) and the silent auction aimed at raising money for a school project in India sponsored by the parish. I went home early, tired from another long day, but had a sense of accomplishment.
This morning, I went with my father to the Big Annual Cleanup of the Boucher forest to show him the natural treasure that we have in our backyard. During the week, students from Darcy-McGee and Grande Rivière high schools planted 1 700 trees, under the supervision of our project manager, Michel-Olivier Matte. And in four years, with the support of the community, 15 tonnes of waste have thus been taken out of the largest unprotected wooded area of the region. Numerous citizens – most accompanied by their children – came and gave their time to freshen up the rocky plateau, literally under shards of glass. A wonderful place, full of cephalopod fossils, corals and striae caused by the weight of three kilometers of ice that once covered it, at the time of the Wisconsin glaciation, the last of the Pleistocene epoch that affected North America. My only regret: if I am elected, I will have to leave my post as vice-president of the Boucher Forest Foundation. But the forest will remain a priority for me; I will apply myself to have its importance recognized by the council and to reach a consensus so that concrete measures be taken to ensure its long-standing.
This morning I received an e-mail from the Genois street resident that I spoke of yesterday. It seems as though my arguments have convinced her to side with me. I am very happy. This is the kind of pat on the back that motivates me. She offered that I go over her daily route with her, by bike, in the coming weeks, in order to see firsthand the extent of the problem. I accepted the invitation. I will get back to you on this.
In the afternoon, I went door-to-door in a neighbourhood where my list of supporters grew again. There was greatly question of the condition of our parks and of the protection of our green spaces. My volunteer work with the Boucher Forest Foundation interests people a lot. Moreover, tomorrow morning is the Big Annual Cleanup of the forest. This year we are focussing our efforts around the rocky plateau.
At around 6:15 pm, I went to the walleyed pike dinner at the Knights of Columbus in the company of the outgoing councillor of Deschênes, Alain Riel. The Council’s hall is located on the corner of Principale and Bancroft street, three minutes away from my place. I met some of my constituents. The outgoing mayor and two candidates for the position were there, as well as my opponent. The campaign is in full swing and we see this in this kind of evening.
Tomorrow, spit-roast at my friend Mika’s place.
After my dinner with Éric St-Pierre, at Café 129, I went door-to-door in Old Aymer, near Saint-Paul’s church, under a fine autumn sun. People’s welcome is always as energizing and interest in municipal elections does not seem as low as would suggest the voter turnout. People spoke to me about heritage protection, the importance of mobilizing the community to help rebuild the church and the obvious presence of gangs, which worries the neighbourhood.
On my way home, I stopped off at the bistro L'Autre Oeil, one of Old Aylmer’s treasures, to say hello to some friends and acquaintances. A welcoming place where Daniel, Martine, Louis and Denise receive us as if we were a member of the family. I talked a while with a good half-dozen of my constituents, some of whom I met for the first time.
When I got home, I came across an e-mail from a citizen whose place I had been to some twelve days before. She wanted to know my position on four issues: the repairing/improvement of the bicycle path for the benefit of the citizens who go to work by bicycle; speeding on Des Allumettières; the new Des allumettières Park-and-Ride and its impact on the Village Eardley neighbourhood and, finally, the problem of gas emission from cars whose engine is idle. I took the time to answer as honestly as possible and to give great detail to her questions. I await her response.
This afternoon, strategic meeting with Louise, an ally from Wychwood. In an hour and a half, we established a number of actions to carry out, drew up a list of influential people to meet in the coming weeks and the tasks to entrust to my allies. My calendar for the month of October promises to be quite full!
At the end of the day, after having installed another large sign with my friend Éric, I participated in APICA’s 6 to 8 meeting which was held this month at La Dernière Retouche, an alterations and tailoring shop that also offers a dry cleaning service, owned by Mélanie Laurin. APICA took the opportunity to unveil the names of a dozen finalists of the Gala of Excellence that is to be held in January. I used the occasion to speak with several merchants of my district with whom I am already a customer and to be acquainted with the representatives of organisms and business owners that I did not know. The revitalization of Principale street, at the heart APICA’s actions, will also be one of my priorities once I am elected.
Awake at 5:30 am to reread notes written last night and to prepare myself for my first face-to-face with the outgoing councillor of my district on Radio-Canada, on the radio programme Bernier et Cie. We were called an hour too early, which gave me plenty of time to drink a good cup of coffee and relax before the moment of truth. In the room adjacent to the studio, I had the opportunity of seeing my friend Marco Dubé, who I met during my stay in Sudbury, and Pascale Montminy, who I knew during the time I was at La Rotonde, (respectively Director of Media relations and Director of Public relations). They were accompanying their boss, Hubert T. Lacroix, President and CEO of CBC/Radio-Canada, with whom I had the pleasure of shaking hands.
We went into the studio at about 8:40 am. For a good twelve minutes we took turns answering the host Carl Bernier’s questions on some precise electoral issues, on our vision and the reasons why voters should put their confidence in us on November 1st. I leave it to you to judge my performance as well as my opponent’s. Listen to the discussion (in French, under the heading ‟À l’émission, 22 septembre 2009, Élections municipales”).
First venture into the Des Cèdres neighbourhood, where I talked with some residents of Arthur-Croteau street who spoke to me about the neglect along the shoreline, swimmable in the past, but now overrun by tall grass and alder. The revitalization project of Parc des Cèdres and the marina, currently the third priority on the B list, is a 5 million dollars project that cannot be achieved without the support of the provincial and federal governments. But in the meantime, minor maintenance is required. I also met committed residents on Xavier street with whom I talked at length. A citizen told me of the numerous administrative obstacles she encountered when she owned a second-hand bookstore, on Principale street. Exhausted, she decided to sell the house. The Aux deux frères bakery is there now. Despite the pitfalls, she continues to fully support local services. Some citiznes mentioned our common outing (the group of five) again by speaking very highly of it. And then we discussed the problem of gangs, who hang out in the park, nearby, agreeing that punishment is certainly not the only solution.
Tonight, governing council of the Boucher Forest Foundation meeting, to resolve a great many details and to take stock of the situation. Michel-Olivier, our project manager, has things well in hand. Notice to interested parties, the Big Annual Cleanup will take place this Saturday, September 26. For information, contact: Michel-Olivier Matte, 819.923.8381
A beautiful Sunday for installing my large signs. For my first electoral campaign, I wanted to participate in all stages. I thought there was nothing like it to measure the amount of work that it requires and I was right. Therefore this morning, my friend Pierre Parent (who lives in the Deschênes district) and I worked with Éric St-Pierre, supervisor of the set-up. Éric, who knows my district well as he resides there (and by the nature of his maintenance and landscaping work), not only coordinated the building of the structures, but also drew up a list of strategic locations where to install them. In the company of my two strong men (I have to confess that yours truly is more at ease with a keyboard than with a mace!), we mounted the majority of my 4 x 8 signs. Going around the district as we did allowed me to realize that I need to have more printed. At the end of five good hours of work where we joked around, but also talked more seriously about the city’s future, I enjoyed a bit of the good weather and thought to myself that I am really fortunate to be able to rely on such support. A few blocks from my house, two allies that I met during my door-to-door and when walking my dog, were also talking about strategy. And my friend Daniel praised my candidacy to an influential resident of his neighbourhood. My network is proliferating. Clearly, this Sunday has been good!
Awake at 5:30 am. Coffee, scan newspapers, reply to emails. At 7:15 am, I phoned Eric St-Pierre, who is lending me a hand with my large signs. We stopped by Aroma Select, district roaster, for a real coffee. Then we picked up my 4 x 8s at Kolegram. On both the way there and back, we talked about our respective companies, about our view on things. Our objectives. And about electoral strategy, of course.
At 9:30 am, I was at the Lucien-Brault pavillion at the Université du Québec en Outaouais for the great Projet Gatineau citizen assembly. 120 people had answered this call, including my colleagues from the group of five, mayoral candidates Aurèle Desjardins, Richard Gravel and Roger Fleury, municipal councillors Patrice Martin and Denise Laferrière and Member of Parliament for Gatineau, Richard Nadeau (BQ).
Projet Gatineau worked hard to put everything in place and succeeded in mobilizing citizens of the city’s five sectors to discuss the future of Gatineau. That alone should strike a chord with all of us. Together we discussed identity and belonging, citizen participation and democratic bodies, city planning and sustainable development and municipal finance. The assembly determined by simple majority the five priorities it wishes to see implemented during the next term and that will be submitted to the candidates of the upcoming November 1st elections. The protection of the Boucher Forest, in the Aylmer sector, will be included in the orientation text of section III (City planning and sustainable development). Projet Gatineau is not a lobby group but an assembly of citizens, who believe they should have their say on the future of their city, who are implicated on a voluntary basis and who prove that it possible to increase citizen participation. Provided that one is there, of course! The majority of our city’s elected, perhaps too accustomed to debating key issues to empty audiences and to holding public consultations that beat all records of non participation, missed a perfect opportunity to hear committed citizens, to take part in the discussions and to accept the extended hand that was being offered. I can understand the absence of some, whose record for the past four years is limited to a long silence or to systematic opposition votes. But I have a hard time understanding how others, who have demonstrated that they are capable of leadership, did not note the invitation.
Elected officials can always say that citizens are not interested in the key issues affecting them. They should rather call into question the mechanisms that are in place and the way in which citizens are called to participate.
Two strategic meetings this morning. First on the phone with Johanne, an ally who is offering me her support and network, convinced of the value of our common outing on September 8, and then at Greg Fergus’, who is lending me a hand with both ideas and fieldwork. My campaign will definitively have allowed me to meet remarkable people! I then had lunch with Michel-Rémi Lafond, general manager of the Conseil régional de la culture de l’Outaouais. We met in 1993 around a collective book project, with the publisher Vents d’Ouest, and I published one of his novels while I was in charge of Éditions L’Interligne. An intellectual and man of action, Michel-Rémi and I have the ability to pick up the conversation where we left it. We had not seen each other for ages, and then he calls me up and we see each other twice in less than a week, first at the unveiling of the commemorative plaque at Symmes Inn, and then a little longer this afternoon, to discuss major cultural issues in Gatineau, as well as city planning and heritage. Fascinating and enlightening! I will come back to this with more detail in the Culture and Heritage section of my programme.
A long day that began at dawn with an urgent translation for a client. In the morning, I talked for some time with Christiane Thérien, president of Friends of Wychwood, an association of active residents that has made several representations to the city these last years and that advocates in particular for the return of the regulation that requires a permit for the felling of mature trees. In 2007, the Friends of Wychwood made a presentation to the Environment and Sustainable Development Advisory Committee and suggested four elements of their vision: the protection of trees, the creation of a green corridor, the water quality around the beach at Parc des Cèdres and urban development. A sensible document (in French) that is still current. In 2008, the association reiterated its standpoint by presenting a report (also in French) on the municipal environmental policy. A conversation that helped me get acquainted with the spokesperson of a group of committed citizens and that reinforces my idea of creating a district council to encourage the citizen participation in Aylmer. Later on, I received a call from Radio-Canada inviting me to a debate with my opponent on next Tuesday, September 22, at 7:37 am as part of the Bernier et cie radio programme, on 90.7 FM, that I invite you to tune into. At the close of day, after stopping by L'Autre Oeil, where I took a few minutes to relax in good company, I went, with Éric (one of my allies), to pick up the necessary material for the installation of my largest signs. The day ended at 9:30 pm, after an hour-long meeting with my official agent where we talked about finances and prepared my pre-election spending report. Tomorrow, I am submitting my candidature to the office of the Registry. I have a meeting at 3:30 pm with Me Ouellet, the city clerk, who acts as Chief Electoral Officer.
Second afternoon in a row in the same neighbourhood, something I rarely do. I received an enthusiastic welcome from my fellow citizens. They question me about my political allegiance, my background, about the reason why I chose Aylmer, when we returned to the region. I tell them about my involvement with the Boucher Forest Foundation, of my vision for sustainable economical and social development, of wanting to promote local trade, an idea a hold dear, and of the opportunity that Principale street is offering us to realize this. After several minutes of discussing with a lady, not only did I receive her support, but she also went to get her husband to continue the discussion. Then, without having been solicited, she assured me of her brother’s vote, who lives with them, and even put in a good word for me with her neighbour across the street, so that after fifteen minutes, after having taken her lead, I had gained the support of five people. “Elections are won one vote at a time”, my allies keep telling me since the beginning of my campaign. This sentence, that I have heard a hundred times, I have made my motto, my leitmotiv. And this concentrated support illustrates its very importance. The high point of the day: I received an email and a phone call from two voters in my district, who spontaneously were offering me their support, bringing the number of new allies up to six since last Sunday’s Yesteryear’s supper. The network is working.
This afternoon I visited people in my immediate neighbourhood. In addition to giving way to various encounters, door-to-door is amazing in that: it allows for the discovery of the full geographic expanse of the area in which one lives. Who can claim to know all of the streets, alleys and parks of their neighbourhood apart from the mailman and Publisac deliverer? On the electoral map pinned on my kitchen wall, I highlight the streets where I have been since the month of August. And I identify with a coloured pin the parks based on their general appearance: a green pin for the parks in good condition, yellow for those in need of some work, and red for those that have clearly been uncared-for. I will take stock of my findings in a future chronicle.
Today I began my door-to-door in the neighbourhood that is at the eastern edge of my district. A voter raised a question for which I did not have an answer, but that I found on the website of the Directeur général des élections du Québec: is it possible to vote before the advance poll if we plan to be outside of the province at that time? The answer is no. Though such a measure does exist for provincial elections. It’s a shame that everything is not done to ensure the optimal participation of voters. Especially with the likely call of a federal election this fall, we need to increase our efforts to convince our fellow citizens to go out to the polls…
I spent the afternoon in a neighbourhood that changed districts as a result of the redistribution of the electoral map, West of Grande-Rivière high school. I was welcomed with enthusiasm by residents who have been settled there for many decades and others who are parents with young children. We talked about sustainable development and the urban sprawl, of turning the page on the old city and the chapter we now need to write. I was pleased to hear older people put forth their ideas to attract young families to the neighbourhood. I also had the opportunity of shaking hands with Pascal Laplante, who had interviewed me ten years ago at the Salon du livre de l'Outaouais at the time of the publication of one of my books (he was then a journalist student at La Cité collégiale) and of meeting his charming wife and their adorable little girl. Thus, this afternoon, I was able to consolidate more support.
There was a large crowd at last night’s Yesteryear’s Supper. 360 people were gathered in a movement of solidarity that presumably surpassed the most optimist expectations, to support the reconstruction fund of Saint-Paul heritage church. I ate in the company of Alain Riel, councillor of Deschênes, Mayor Marc Bureau and his wife, Christiane Gourde, Sylvie Chénier, owner of the Au jardin de Sylvie flower shop, and her husband Louis and of my friend and official agent, André Couture. I also had the pleasure of speaking briefly with my colleague Mireille Apollon, of the group of five, and of sharing a moment with the resplendent Constance Provost who even presented me with some tips for my electoral campaign and to whom I promised to pay a visit at the Résidence du Monastère. I also conversed with Charlotte L'Écuyer, our provincial member of parliament, with whom I participated in meetings in the office of her colleague Line Beauchamp, the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, in Montréal, and at the National Assembly, in Québec, earlier this spring to move a Boucher Forest Foundation issue forward. Above all, I met numerous voters of my district.
Also, we were among the first to learn that a call for proposals will be made to architecture firms for the reconstruction of a multifunctional space that will retain the walls and façade of the church, which have been deemed structurally sound by experts.
All in all, an enjoyable evening, an excellent meal (I chose the fillet of walleye) coupled with a very good red wine from the Clos Baillie vineyard (Aylmer sector) and interesting conversations. I even recruited new allies.
Today is Yesteryear’s Fest in Old Aylmer. I come from the unveiling ceremony of a commemorative plaque from the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada that recognizes the national historic importance of Symmes Inn. All around the Inn, people come and go in period clothing and we can even hear the sound of horses’ hooves clattering on the pavement.
Richard Bégin, president of the Symmes Inn Museum, was surrounded by Mayor Marc Bureau, Senator Andrée Champagne and an official representative of Parks Canada. A large crowd attended the event. The presence of former Mayor of Aylmer, Constance Provost, was acknowledged. Tonight, I am partaking in the Yesteryear’s Supper, whose profits will go to the reconstruction fund of Saint-Paul’s church.
This morning, when I awoke at about 5h30 am, I made coffee and fetched my copy of the Le Droit newspaper at my front door. On page 7, Louise Lafortune’s article was entitled (English translation): “The Group of five irritates certain councillors”. Fancy that, could our common outing have hit the nail on the head? And then, turning the page, I came across an article that had the same effect on me as a good espresso. On page 8, Denis Gratton entitled his column “The five musketeers” and devoted a half-page to us. Until I put a link for the full text (if I manage to find in on the internet!), here is a translated excerpt of what he wrote about us: “And what is reassuring about this campaign is that these five men and women are credible, well-grounded and visionaries. They are light years away from the “typical” councillors who want to be elected to fill the potholes in front of Mrs. what’s-her-name’s or to their neighbours the right to water their asphalt.” Telling it like it is: we could not ask for more!
Following an afternoon where I heard a lot about Tuesday’s collective outing, I dined in the company of civil servants from the Canadian Intellectual Property Office stationed in Winnipeg (Michel Loiselle), Sudbury (Nancy Meilleur), Halifax (Cécile Leblanc-Klein) and Gatineau (Marie-Eve Samson), not to mention my friend Caroline Lefebvre, organizer of the meeting, and spoken word poets Alain Albert and Michel-André Sincennes. We discussed copyright, the work of creators and the role of legislature in these delicate matters. We talked in particular about new technologies, which add to the problem of piracy, the existing structures for the redistribution of copyright (Copibec and Cancopy, for example) and some cases of intellectual property theft, such as that of the illustrator Claude Robinson, whose victory I commented on my blog last Thursday. A rather interesting meeting with people for whom intellectual property is sacred.
“Five candidates, one conference.” Is how we entitled our media notice for the press conference that we held at 11 am this morning, in the Vidéotron conference room of La Maison du Citoyen. For this occasion I was accompanied by Mireille Apollon* (L'Orée du Parc), Pierre Ducasse* (Hull–Val-Tétreault), Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin* (Buckingham) and Nycole Turmel (Plateau–Manoir des Trembles). Some twenty people (mostly journalists and some members of our teams) were present. During this event, we were able to set forth the ideas around which our group was formed. I have published the press release* in the Textes variés section. Some elements of our vision: So that each district and each citizen can fully enjoy the benefits of being part of the fourth largest city in Quebec, the dynamics of the city council must change. All while defending the interests of their district, councillors must work in solidarity towards a common vision of the greater city and its realization. For us, a city does not have as sole mandate to offer basic services to its population and Gatineau needs to play an active economic and social role. Finally, we consider it urgent to increase citizen participation in forums, consultations and other assemblies essential to the growth of a city. Our common outing, the first of its kind in Gatineau, has enabled us to give an overview of the sense of solidarity that could have currency following the November 1st elections. Our press conference received good media coverage, which occupied us all for a good part of the day. Le Droit, La Revue de Gatineau, the Aylmer Bulletin, the Bulletin de Buckingham, Radio-Canada (radio and television), TVA, Tag Radio, CJRC, NRJ, among others, have reported on it or interviewed us. *Available in French only.
Today, Labour Day, I spent part of the afternoon in a neighborhood of new development, between the streets of Hautes-Rives and Lattion, near the planned Des allumettières Park-and-Ride project. A reoccurring concern that people spoke to me profusely about was the need to implement speed reduction measures. The opening of Grand-Hunier street to the West, which leads to a new neighborhood, and the absence of a stop sign seem to be at the heart of the problem. My understanding of the situation, which I hear about in all neighborhoods and that I have noticed in my own is that the City is overwhelmed by the growing number of requests it receives. In 2008, $ 125 000 (of a total budget of $ 500 000 granted to “speed reduction measures”) was reserved to Samuel-Edey street which only has residents on its West side (as the East side overlooks the golf club). Far be it from me to question the need to slow down traffic on the North-South axis that connects des Allumettières to Aylmer road and that many drivers considered as a race-track, but at first glance, all those who occasionally take Samuel-Edey will tell you, the number of signposts, speed bumps and traffic islands that have been installed go beyond all comprehension. With such a low budget, common sense would have it that we should be in a position to install a few road signs (notably stop signs) and some speed bumps elsewhere. I live steps away from Wood Street Park, which separates Old Aylmer from Wychwood, and access to the bicycle path and park facilities, at the corner of Parker and Lord-Aylmer, is anything but safe. If I am elected, I pledge that I will not shy away from such questions. After several hours of walking in the sun, I ended my afternoon overlooking the river, in Queen’s Park, where I had been invited to a private corn roast between neighbours. I met a dozen of my constituents, whose residences, before the redistribution of the electoral map, were located in the Deschênes district. A warm welcome in this glorious summer day where, here again, there was great mention of speed!
After my day off Saturday, I was back on the streets. A beautiful afternoon for going door-to-door, today, in Les Terrasses Eardley, where many families have taken up residence. Children and youth have been at the heart of our discussion. I had many pleasant encounters, including that of Ginette who told me about her efforts to allow her twenty-two year old son gain independence. Jean-Sébastien has Down’s syndrome, and adapting to his new environment, in Aylmer, has not been easy. His mother has declined the paratransit service to the Centre Nouvel-Horizon, the training institution he attends in the Gatineau sector. Instead, she took a few days off work and accompanied him on the Société de transport de l'Outaouais’ route so that he would learn to get along on his own and take the bus. An encouraging story of empowerment. Moreover, Ginette has published a collection of poems inspired by her son. A little further down, two other residents told to me about problems related to the emergence of gangs in the neighbourhood, which, to be sure, worries them. One citizen suggested a solution that deserves to be explored: finding a means to interest youth in a community art project, in which they could give free rein to their creativity and constructively intervene in the urban landscape. The question of speeding was abundantly talked about, and in the few hours I spent in the area I witnessed it on several occasions, as was discussed having safe access to Front Park and to the play structures, put at risk by delinquent drivers, the need to install traffic lights at the corner of Front and Allumettières boulevard and the pertinence of the Rapibus project, which a couple of citizens are calling into question. In short, a well filled three and a half hour segment that I barely noticed go by.