Quebec’s poorest MRC… because?

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Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan

There is no “because”. At least, not in thesense of a single explanation. There are
plenty of simplistic theories as to why thePontiac is near the bottom of Quebec’s
MRCs, and one mayor’s recent outburst ishardly original. The Mayor blames “poor

Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan

There is no “because”. At least, not in thesense of a single explanation. There are
plenty of simplistic theories as to why thePontiac is near the bottom of Quebec’s
MRCs, and one mayor’s recent outburst ishardly original. The Mayor blames “poor
governance” – here, presumably.Granted its vagueness, this “explanation”
hardly explains anything. Why no moreforestry industry? Why so few jobs here?
Why has tourism not blossomed? Whymust so many Pontiac residents drive to
Ottawa/Gatineau for work? Why must our kids leave home for a college education? We could say with the Mayor that it’s due to poor governance – but what exactly would that tell us? Not much.
In fact, if an explanation doesn’t explainanything, then it has another purpose. Who
is the Mayor blaming (for everything, basically)?
Local government: the MRC and oureighteen municipal councils, local branches
of agencies like the SADC (and the oldCLD), the tourism association, Chamber of
Commerce, etc. – these are our “local governance”. The Mayor is telling us they’ve
failed. And, is embedded in that assertionthe claim that someone else could do better?
Himself, perhaps?So is the Mayor preparing for a secondtermrun or a try for the job of warden?
It’s hard to believe these are his ambitions since this mayor has alienated and angered almost everyone within reach—from his own municipal team (the TCRA) to all the citizens who use the PPJ Trail for recreation and health purposes. Does he picture himself as Pontiac’s Donald Trump, with proposals and accusations so simple-minded that no one but those comfortable with
non-explanations would accept?
Yet, like Trump, there is some glimmer of truth in what he says. As for his “bad
governance” accusation, many might agree in general, but few would agree that bad governance is all locally sourced. Local government is a very difficult task – largely because local government receives so little in the way of locally-requested financial support. It’s a tough job to please everyone in our disadvantaged communities with so few resources and little budget. Did the
Mayor expect local councils to have a magical loaves-and-fishes multiplier?
Anyone with a view of the last fifty years of Pontiac’s slow decline knows clearly that Pontiac hardly even exists in the minds oft hose in Quebec City and in Ottawa. The feds will not support us; we saw that clearly in the sovereignty battles. And Quebec City doesn’t even know we exist, despite the occasional flash trip by a cabinet minister to show the flag. Our forests went to outside interests long ago. Shysters taking grants to open businesses, like the shingle mill or the
Portage mill-site fiasco, are not pursued when they leave, once the grants run out.
It’s tempting to blame our MP and MNA for this “bad governance”, but they are merely messengers. They work for the government, not for us. But, as new reps, let’s see if they can change this narrative. So far, if we had no MP or MNA at all and their salaries went to local charities — the Snowsuit Fund or Bouffe Pontiac — wouldn’t we be better off than we are now? Road repair and other
maintenance is automatic, not the result of our representatives at work. Compared to government spending in other ridings and MRCs, would you say we have had any representation at all?
If the Mayor is referring to this situation, let’s give him a listen. If he’s blaming our
local councillors and mayors – which is to say he’s blaming us, the voters—let’s not.