Martin C. Barry
If personality is a factor that ends up influencing the outcome of the Oct. 1 provincial election, the Coalition Avenir Québec’s François Legault may well be ahead of the game in this regard.
While incumbent Liberal Premier Philippe Couillard is known for his surgical coolness – after all, he is a neurologist – PQ leader Jean-François Lisée doesn’t seem to fare much better, coming from an intellectual background and being a political analyst.
Marché 440 meet and greet
On a campaign stop in Laval at the Marché 440 outdoor garden market last Sunday afternoon, Legault, on the other hand, seemed much more in his natural element.
Meeting ordinary people face to face, the CAQ leader seemed completely at ease as he interacted with virtually everyone he met, while exchanging anecdotes and bits of humor with voters from the Laval region.
During a scrum with journalists afterwards, Legault outlined some of the specific pledges the CAQ is making for the Laval area. “We made a commitment to extend the REM, you know, with Montreal, Laval and along the 440 – that is to have REM stations along the 440 east to west,” he said.
Election pledges for Laval
“I think this is something that we need in Laval. You only have to be living in Laval to see what happens on the 15 in the morning, late afternoon and in the evening to know that there is a big, big, big problem with mobility in Laval.” Straying off that point, Legault then alluded to the CAQ’s pledge to rearrange the province’s school tax system, as well as other issues.
“As is the case elsewhere in the province, we are paying too much school tax, there aren’t enough well-paying jobs, there’s a shortage of pre-kindergartens for four-year-olds,” he said. “We’re going to be offering the best services to our senior citizens. So there are various things we are doing in Laval. Yes, we can do better in Laval than what’s been done over the past 15 years.”
Also promises A-19 extension
Legault was also asked what the CAQ, if elected, will do to complete the long-delayed extension of Autoroute 19 northward from Laval to the North Shore region. “What I am committing myself to do is to work very narrowly with the mayors of the North Shore,” he replied.
“I am an MNA from the North Shore,” said Legault, who is the representative for the riding of Rousseau in the Lanaudière region. “I think I know them well. I worked a long time in the Laurentians when I was president of Air Transat. I have a good knowledge, I think, of the needs of the North Shore, and I will work with them very, very closely. I have a good idea of what they want.”
‘Time to act,’ says CAQ leader
Legault pointed out that successive governments led by the Liberals and the PQ have made promises about completing the A-19 as many as times – without ever fulfilling them. “It’s about time that we take this seriously and take action,” he said.
“I think that one of the big demands being heard concerns the 19. It’s going to be done with us. And it’s going to be done within the parameters they want – with reserved lanes, based on the demands of the mayors from the North Shore. It will be done within a reasonable period of time.”