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23rd of October 2018

Canada



Quebec election: Climate change becomes focus of party rivals in Gatineau

It's important to put politics aside to show support for victims of the tornado in Gatineau, François Legault says.

GATINEAU — Two of the five worst rainstorms in 90 years, the worst floods on record and, on Friday evening, a tornado — this western Quebec town has seen all four in less than 18 months.

For Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin the cause is clear: climate change.

“Are we going to take this threat seriously? It’s not a theory, it’s people who are displaced, people who suffered, people who have lost everything,” Pedneaud-Jobin said on Saturday. “In Gatineau, we’ve suffered a lot, we’re continuing to suffer and one of the main sources of that, it’s clear, is climate change.”

Standing beside Québec solidaire co-spokesperson Manon Massé and François Legault, the Coalition Avenir Québec leader, it was the second time in a few hours the mayor had appeared alongside two rivals for the premiership of Quebec who had temporarily put aside their difference to show their support for the tornado-ravaged community.

“It’s important for citizens that are going through very tough times to understand that all the leaders are together,” Pedneaud-Jobin said said of the visits. “I think it’s a show of solidarity and it does count when you’re going through tough times. It’s also an occasion to speak about real problems that will need real solutions in the future.”

Earlier in the day, it was Parti Québecois Leader Jean-François Lisée and Philippe Couillard — who temporarily suspended his campaign to act more as premier than Liberal leader — who visited victims of the storm.

By 4:30 p.m., the mayor said, the majority of people who had been displaced by the tornado, and spent the night in a temporary shelter in a CEGEP, were in the process of returning to their homes. While many would be returning to broken windows and rooms still without electricity, the buildings were at least structurally sound, Pedneaud-Jobin said.

For those whose homes were damaged, it could take much longer, he said.

The area most affected by the storm is a poorer one, Pedneaud-Jobin added.

The next step, according to Legault, is to compensate victims.

“We’re talking about many poor people and they may have lost all the assets that they’ve built in their life, so it’s important that they know as fast as possible how much will they get back from the government,” he said.

For Massé, it has to go further than money — community support is needed for the victims, she said, many of whom are new arrivals and may have lost everything all over again.

“For me, it’s very important to be here all together, to show solidarity, but also at the same time to acknowledge we have problems with climate change and we have to do something,” she said.

Legault also talked about showing support for the community.

“It’s not the time for politics,” Legault said earlier in the day. “It’s important that we’re all united today behind the premier.”

The CAQ leader said he also sees a connection between extreme weather and climate change.

“There have always been tornadoes, but it’s obvious that now, because of climate change, there are more extreme events,” Legault said.

However, one CAQ candidate, Éric Girard told HuffPost Québec he isn’t sure about the link between extreme weather events, including heat waves, and human-caused climate change. According to the article, which was published on Monday, Girard describes himself as a “climate skeptic.”

“He said we cannot attribute one specific happening to this but, clearly, we see the numbers, it’s clear that the climate change increased the kind of situation we see here today,” Legault said.

For Legault, the largest contribution Quebec can play to fighting climate change is exporting hydro power — which will allow for the shutdown of coal and oil plants in other party of North America.

“There’s no wall,” he said. “We’re all on the same planet.”

But while Legault has called for more electricity exports from Quebec, he has opposed the Apuiat wind farm on Quebec’s North Shore.

He said Quebec needs to sign more export agreements — and build transmission infrastructure — before it builds additional power-generation facilities, adding a dam can store energy in a way a wind farm can’t.

Legault’s climate plan has faced criticism from other parties.

“We have a credible plan to fight global warming. And the parties that don’t are on the wrong side of history,” Lisée said.

Before heading to Gatineau, Legault met with the mayor of Laval and other mayors from Montreal’s North Shore,

In Laval, Legault was scheduled to talk with local mayors about transportation — he wants to expand the Réseau express métropolitain train network in Laval and extend Highway 19. Legault has called for the expansion of other highways and the building of a third connection — a bridge or tunnel — between Quebec City and Lévis.

Massé said politicians can’t talk about fighting climate change and expanding highways at the same time.

“It’s clear that it’s incompatible, except for questions of safety and I don’t think that’s the main reason Mr. Legault wants to extend highways,” Massé said.

She said her party’s climate plan isn’t about winning the provincial election, it’s about saving the planet.

Christopher Curtis contributed to this story.

Related Quebec election: PQ pledges $30 million for autism services Quebec election update: $1 million donated and leaders united in Gatineau Read More




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