LOG CABIN CHRONICLES

West Quebec in provincial cabinet?

Posted 11.16.17
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | An interesting - - and curious - - development in the municipal elections were the claims that our new Minister of Transport, Pontiac's MNA, will solve West Quebec's traffic congestion, spotty public transit, and rough & narrow rural highways. "Minister Fortin will solve those problems, so we don't have to," seemed an undercurrent in Pontiac, Gatineau, and Gatineau Hills' elections.

This is curious because we can ask ourselves if this has helped in the past. Pontiac's MNA Robert Middlemiss had exactly the same portfolio, Transport, for years - - and does our region's road network now shine?

Even on the federal level, Pontiac had, for years, the senior minister in Prime Minister Harper's government - - Harper's Quebec lieutenant, no less - - and is there one project in the Pontiac which was helped by "having a seat at the table"?

If anything, ministers seem have too many responsibilities to pay much attention to their home bases.

What a challenge Minister Fortin must face, dealing with the transportation problems and appeals from every region in Qubec, and all before we count on him to solve our own traffic mess, commuting the 105 or 148, or lining up to cross the Champlain Bridge.

In part, Gatineau's own city government has created this mess. It has approved every housing development possible, it seems, without giving equal treatment to the problems all this expansion would - - and did - - cause, especially traffic congestion and STO's snail's-pace public transit, in the West end especially.

In part, also, this is due to our oh-so-modern society's dependence on the personal automobile. Hey, compare our problems to Montreal's - - or Laval, Kingston, Toronto, or to Vancouver. Count the four-tonnes-of-steel on our roads and bridges, each ferrying a single person to his/her destination. This is a social problem, as much as an engineering one. As long as it's still afforable to drive one's four-tonnes to work or shopping, traffic snarls and line-ups will grow.

Maybe our new minister will champion a drastic solution - - banning or costing cars out of the downtowns of our cities? I understand it costs about $50C to drive into central London, England - - that's the personal vehicle entrance fee. Parking's extra.

It's common and understandable to hope for a quick fix and easy solution - - the easiest being "let the other guy solve it!" But depending on ministers? Even though the Outaouais now has two major cabinet seats, plus several influential junior positions in the provincial government. (Our federal reps have not fared quite so well.)

At best, one supposes, a cabinet minister offers her/his riding access to the decision-making process. But it guarantees absolutely no results, as we have seen in our past. We have the door cracked open. Everything else is up to us, our leaders, and our civil servants.

What we don't want are local leaders shirking their own responsibilities. The real opportunity we have is to cooperate within our local councils. Let's recruit ministerial support and budgets, yes, but solve our issues here!

john@johnmahoney.com




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