PONTIAC – Jean Claude Rivet, President of the Pontiac Chamber of Commerce and Érik Gaudreault, President of Vision centre-ville and bar owner in Gatineau recently appeared on CBC radio’s Ottawa Morning with Hallie Cotnam, April 14. They spoke about the recent elections and their predictions for the future under Liberal rule.
According to Cotnam, Liberal leader, Phillipe Couillard outlined some big ticket items to improve Quebec’s economy in his election campaign. Couillard promised to boost the economy, creating 250,000 jobs in Quebec over the next five years, investing more money in job training and the forest industry, and increase infrastructure spending.
Cotnam questioned whether Couillard’s lack of experience as a businessman, due to his profession as a neurosurgeon, would hinder his ability to create jobs and boost the economy. “The concern is not whether he has a great deal of business experience, because nobody has all of the tools in the toolbox. Rather it’s his ability to surround himself with the right skill sets or people who have that knowledge to be able to accomplish what he wants to do,” said Rivet.
Gaudreault expressed his pessimism in seeing any of the 250,000 jobs created in the Gatineau area. “I don’t have a very optimistic view. I think it will be more northern or St. Lawrence river area jobs that will be created since this area doesn’t have much mining or industrial works.”
Cotnam highlighted that one Pontiac candidate claimed the top issue in the Pontiac is the economy. “It’s very true. We see an average of about $18,000 in income per household in the Pontiac region. The economy is the first and greatest objective we have right now. When driving though the area or spending any time in it, you notice where the deficiencies are,” explained Rivet.
In terms of forestry, Cotnam asked how optimistic Rivet is about investments being made in the forestry industry in the Pontiac. “The Pontiac was established from forestry, which was very strong until recently when it collapsed because of the paper mill closing,” she added.
“My optimism is one of reservation. We have seen in the past where there has been injections or infusions into the forestry industry that failed. It’s not that it can’t be done; it has to be done very carefully and thought through. There are certainly a great deal of resources in the Pontiac, that’s not in question; it’s the running and processing of those resources that are going to make a difference. It is a do-able, viable, industry but it has to be given more thought than the past,” added Rivet.
Gaudreault claimed he would like to see more investment in the tourism sector to bring tourists from the National Capital region into the Gatineau and Pontiac regions. Rivet explained the problems Highway 148 poses to the Pontiac’s tourism industry. “One of the problems is that Highway 148 isn’t designated as a strategic route. So, unfortunately, when we see efforts to try and tap into some of the funds available for tourism, it often comes back to the necessity that it become a strategic route. The money is there but we can’t make use of it so we often find ourselves in a catch-22,” he explained.
Cotnam concluded the interview by discussing the Pontiac’s new MNA, André Fortin, and whether he has what it takes to properly manage and improve the riding. “It depends on who he surrounds himself with and who he is willing to listen to. There’s two things in politics: heart and head. The person who approaches it with heart often connects well with the people but then needs to find someone with skills in administration, etc. to move forward. People with head are intellectuals but miss the heart; they don’t connect with the people, and don’t get votes,” concluded Rivet.