Governance . . . or “Get lost, Pontiac”?

0
39

Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan

The last edition of this column looked at the Mayor of Thorne’s claim that Pontiac’s standing at the bottom of Quebec’s MRCs is due to one thing: “poor governance”.

Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan

The last edition of this column looked at the Mayor of Thorne’s claim that Pontiac’s standing at the bottom of Quebec’s MRCs is due to one thing: “poor governance”.
Despite plenty of feedback, including from our new MP, both supporting and objecting to that column, it remains to this day difficult to see, exactly, how Pontiac’s “government” has helped or failed us. We might agree that someone, somewhere, has dropped the ball in managing one of Pontiac’s projects, but who “government” actually is, seems cloudy; we’ve had to speculate on the mayor’s intentions and also speculate on what our “government” hasn’t done – and what it could have done to grow the Pontiac. We want specifics – the usual complaints are tiresome, apart from someone’s opportunity to rant.
The mayor’s positive suggestions remain misty – apart from his plan to wipe out the PPJ hiking and cycling trail, one of Pontiac’s few live tourism attractions. His “governance” complaint has been one man’s view. Until now. 
Now the mayors of the MRC are reconsidering changing Pontiac’s “governance” to elect (and pay well) the warden. This second chapter in the “governance” saga presents plenty of questions (who will pay? is the big one). Being at the bottom of Quebec’s MRCs means Pontiac’s taxpayers cannot afford more taxes – especially given the provincial government’s absence in improving its own or our  “governance”.
Like many Pontiac folks, our family kept our summer trip this year within Quebec, not only to spend our vacation dollars at home where they could benefit us all, but also to better understand our vast and complex province. We drove through the heart of Quebec, it’s St Lawrence cradle, to the far North Shore, all the while, of course, comparing the facilities, attractions and landscapes to those back
in the Pontiac. 
What a comparison! Here’s the mayor’s complaint writ big: compared to the rest of  Quebec, Pontiac certainly is the poor country, and the ignored cousin. From St Jean Richelieu to Magog to L’Islet and Trois-Pistoles, and then back down
the north shore from Tadoussac to the capital and Montreal, via two
historical routes – all beautifully maintained, advertised, and organized. The provincial tourism information centres alone would leave Pontiac’s tourism operators breathless.
We travelled the manicured highways, the Route del Roy, all the little towns – the size of Quyon or Otter Lake or Shawville—with restored colonial, Royalist architecture, all painted brightly, beautiful parks . . . pass Baie St Paul with its international art museum funded by Quebec, an astronomical observatory in Charlevoix (like the one fruitlessly promoted here the last few years), funded by Quebec. Each little town seemed to have a well-stocked museum, marina, tourism centre, and other attractions – all flying the flag of Quebec and, a few, of Canada. Maps, brochures, self-guided tours – all the services needed by tourists and travellers, with little flags showing their funding source. 
Little flags here in Pontiac? They’re on road work, a new culvert perhaps. No tourism booths, not a single facility for visitors. Except for the PPJ Trail and the old Dam-bypass Waterway, which still aids boaters. 
The mayor’s questioning of governance ends in Quebec City and Ottawa, not in Campbell’s Bay. Now Quebec wants to redesign the bad-governance wheel. Why should we be victims again? Why is Pontiac the butt of civil-servant jokes? Because we have sacrificed our forests, minerals, family farms, even our youth, to the larger community? The larger community which now has no place, really, for us? What role can “better governance” play here?