Politicians flock to the Magdalen Islands as residents deal with the aftermath of the storm

The leaders of the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) and the Parti Québécois (PQ), François and Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, traveled to the Îles-de-la-Madeleine on Monday, in a race to win over the inhabitants of the Îles-de- -Madeleine to face the sequel from post-tropical storm Fiona.

The riding of nearly 10,800 voters has historically oscillated between the PQ and the Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ). In the last election, incumbent Joël Arseneau won his seat just 15 votes ahead of the Liberal candidate.

But this time, the PQ candidate faces stiff competition from Jonathan Lapierre of the CAQ. Lapierre is well known in the community, serving as mayor of the Magdalen Islands since 2013 and city councilor since 2005. He stepped down from his municipal duties during the campaign.

With the provincial election just a week away, the leaders of both parties made sure to meet with residents affected by the storm.

At a press conference on Monday afternoon, Legault, the outgoing prime minister, announced that the government would set up a local office and hold a public meeting on Tuesday to help people apply for financial compensation.

Legault said his decision to visit the islands was not politically motivated and was planned long ago.

« I think I was able to separate the two roles, » he said.

PQ leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, right, and his candidate from the Îles-de-la-Madeleine Joël Arseneau, left, met with fishermen on Monday. (Sebastien Desrosiers/Radio-Canada)

St-Pierre Plamondon said he was moved to hear the testimonies of residents hard hit by the storm.

He said he met fishermen who told him they had to secure their boats to telephone poles in the middle of the storm because they had no access to lifts to get their boats out of the water, a problem that he blamed on the federal government. government.

« It’s the consequence… of too much government and files that are not moving forward, » said the PQ leader. « It is the safety of people that is at stake. »

Like Legault, St-Pierre Plamondon said his visit was not politically motivated. He was there, he said, to help Arseneau make a list of people and businesses that needed financial help.

« No matter when an event like this happens, it’s important to get there and measure what needs to be done, » he said. « Our job is to ensure that no one is forgotten. »

Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade says she will travel to the Magdalen Islands and Gaspésie this weekend.

Aid promised to residents

A woman and a man standing near a beach. The man is pointing at something that is not visible in the photo.
The Minister of Public Security and CAQ candidate, Geneviève Guilbault, indicated that the government has programs to help people in this situation. (Kate McKenna/CBC News)

During a visit to the islands on Sunday, CAQ candidate and Public Safety Minister Geneviève Guilbeault said she could not confirm when the funding promised by Legault will begin to arrive.

But she noted that her department already had assistance programs for this type of situation.

“Anyone who has had their home damaged can call us, they can go to our website,” where they will get help navigating the process, she said.

Nouane Giguère, owner of a herbalist called L’Anse aux Herbes which was flooded during the storm, said she was hesitant to get excited until she knew more details.

« This is [an] election, so I’m not really sure [Legault’s promise] », she said. « We expect more than words. »

The water left marks on the walls of Giguère’s shop and one of the windows is shattered, but she said the damage could have been much worse.

« We don’t need to change the wall, change the floor. So losing a product is not that bad, » she said.

A woman standing in front of wooden shelves with jars on them.
Nouane Giguère is the owner of L’Anse aux Herbes, a herbalist damaged by the storm. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

Giguère said she wants an MP who will stand up for the region and support initiatives and projects that benefit the community.

Ariane Arsenault, owner of a soap factory also flooded, plans to apply for the provincial assistance program.

She said she needs to have her building appraised first and check with her insurance company what damages it covers.

But « if they don’t cover everything, of course we’re going to hope that the government can help us, » she said.

Parties pledge to tackle climate change

Arseneau said the storm and its damage was an example of « the negligence of previous governments and a bit of society in general » when it comes to climate change.

« When we say that we must save the planet, well the first parts of the planet that must be saved are regions like the Magdalen Islands, » he said.

St-Pierre Plamondon said dealing with the consequences of climate change is much more expensive than preventing it.

“Failing to adapt and changing our business model has an astronomical impact when we fix the broken pieces,” he said.

He said the PQ would allocate more of the provincial budget to fighting climate change.

A rocky shore with cliffs and a beach.
Coastal erosion is a major concern in the Magdalen Islands. Both the PQ and the CAQ say they plan to allocate funds to this file. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

During Monday’s press conference, Legault promised his party would allocate $100 million to coastal erosion and create an office specifically dedicated to the issue.

« Of all the regions of Quebec, this is the one that most needs action, » he said.

Guilbault also addressed the issue of climate change on Sunday.

She said that the CAQ is very aware of the new challenges facing municipalities due to climate change and that her party is investing in preventive measures to help them adapt.

She said her party had a $7.6 billion plan to help protect the environment, of which « nearly $1 billion is specifically dedicated to this fight against the consequences of climate change. »


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