Mélissa Généreux and Geneviève Hébert are neck and neck in Saint-François.
They called themselves « l’Estrie de beautiful team ». In the Townships-de-l’Est, the candidates of Québec solidaire are pinning all their hopes on Saint-François, a riding represented by the CAQ where a tight fight is taking shape. State of play.
“I feel privileged. It’s almost like a fairy tale,” candidly launches candidate Mélissa Généreux, who says she is blessed to benefit from such attention from her party, Québec solidaire.
It must be said that QS could not be clearer in its message by launching its national campaign in Saint-François: this riding currently caquist, which adjoins that of Sherbrooke and which has known the 27 years of the reign of the liberal Monique Gagnon-Tremblay (1985-2012), must turn orange, according to them. And no wonder if it was in Sherbrooke that was held Show townships!QS’s mid-campaign show featuring some artists and candidates from the region.
In the second week of the campaign, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois returned to his candidate’s electoral office on rue King Est to warm up the troops of volunteers. « The national media do not talk much about Mélissa Généreux even though she is very well known [localement] “, told the To have to the co-spokesperson for Québec solidaire.
A notoriety discovered by the former director of the Public Health Department of Estrie, in office during the tragedy of Mégantic. “I have been in the media and I have often spoken in public. It often happens that I get recognized in the street, » explains Ms.me Generous while walking under the setting sun during a door-to-door session.
But it shouldn’t become a trap, she says. “I don’t want people to think I’m unapproachable. I want them to say to themselves: « She is full chill and not cool-pette”. That’s who I am for real. »
The DD Généreux does not hide either that her challenge is to convince voters that she is capable of talking about something other than health, even if the 24/7 reopening of the Coaticook emergency room and the Elder care is at the heart of Saint-François’ issues. “It takes me out of my comfort zone, but I am able to talk about agriculture and labor shortages. »
The solidarity candidate will nevertheless have a lot to do to beat her caquiste rival, Geneviève Hébert. After a first term of four years, this businesswoman who wears the colors of the CAQ enjoys a certain visibility as an outgoing MP in Saint-François. However, M.me Hébert, who won in 2018 by a comfortable majority of 4,500 votes, is now being caught by the QS candidate. According to the Qc125 blog, they are neck and neck.
With urban and rural areas, young and old, immigrants and a large minority of English speakers in Lennoxville, the riding of Saint-François is a real quilt. “What is a little more complicated for QS in Saint-François is that the territory is quite fragmented. QS relies on the youth vote to make a difference, but a good part of the people who vote in this county [dans les milieux ruraux] are more acquired at the CAQ, in terms of electoral profile”, observes Emmanuel Choquette, professor of political communication at the University of Sherbrooke.
« It’s a big challenge for QS which is often associated with a more urban culture, » he added.
CAQ or QS?
A debate organized by the region’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry between the five Estrie candidates was held in front of some fifty people at the Pub l’Epervier in Coaticook. The tone was very cordial, despite more heated exchanges between the outgoing CAQ MP and her main rival, the solidarity candidate.
In a sympathetic hubbub after the debate, voters discussed their electoral preferences. “Me, it’s the CAQ,” said Louis Hébert without hesitation – no relation to the candidate – who has a dairy farm near Coaticook. » [Geneviève Hébert] took a lot of insurance. And it is true that she is on the ground. »
“We often see her,” adds the municipal councilor in Coaticook, Denis Hébert – who is also not related to the candidate. As president of the Table d’action en communication et en technologie de l’information de la MRC de Coaticook (TACTIC), he collaborated with the outgoing MP to connect the 3,000 or so households in this countryside area that do not have Internet. high speed.
Further down the hall, among a few supporters of other parties, a group of QS supporters were full of praise for Mélissa Généreux. « She’s a strong candidate. She impresses me,” said a young woman who wanted to keep her name quiet because she works for the municipality.
Michel Audet, a Canada Post retiree, has not yet made his decision. But the 74-year-old does not hide that he will lean towards a “more social” party. « It’s time we changed the song. »
Fear of the adversary?
Near Sherbrooke University, in front of the solar panel park where she took part in a press conference, Geneviève Hébert exudes a certain poise, even if she never ventures very far from her party lines. In a 10-minute interview she gives to To have to, the outgoing MNA said she was satisfied with her first term, citing accomplishments that made her proud, including a school in Compton and the launch of the Mother-Child Center project. The emergency in Coaticook, the biofood institute, home care are other files that she undertakes to carry. “In all the amounts announced in Quebec, I will make sure that we have our fair share in Saint-François. »
A few minutes earlier, Mr.me Hébert was part of a trio of CAQ candidates who precisely wanted to reassure businesses in Estrie by telling them that they would not be left out in the energy transition of a possible CAQ government. The press conference, however, has become an opportunity to fire red balls at Quebec solidaire and its plan to reduce greenhouse gases deemed “irresponsible”.
Is Geneviève Hébert afraid of her main opponent? “Not at all,” she retorted, recalling that it had been her role for four years to remind people that she was part of a “realistic and not idealistic” government.
Nor does she see the campaign as a duel with Mélissa Généreux. In his mind, Saint-François has five parties, each with their own ideas. “And it will be up to the people to decide on October 3. »
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