Rural issues remain big in Pontiac riding
It’s been a predictable back and forth battle between red and blue for Quebec’s Pontiac riding ever since Canada’s Confederation, often allowing its winds to blow in the same direction as the government in power.
It wasn’t until the last federal election that the rural riding broke the mould and embraced the NDP wave like the rest of its Quebecois counterparts, proving that orange in the french province was indeed the new blue — and red.
Since 1993, Liberal representative Robert Bertrand held a tight grip over the Pontiac region for four consecutive elections. It wasn’t until 2006 when he was replaced by the Conservative’s Lawrence Cannon for two terms.
And just when Liberals and Conservatives thought they had it in the bag for 2011, NDP’s Mathieu Ravigant stole more than 45% of the vote and took over as the riding’s incumbent.
No longer thought of as a predictable riding as of 2011, this year’s winner really is up in the air.
In year’s past, the Pontiac riding was considered rural only. However, since the riding’s boundaries were recently redrawn to incorporate the northern tip of Gatineau, it has since become an urban-rural riding.
The focus for voters this time around is finding a candidate who’s priority is improving the living conditions in the area. Many areas are still without Internet access and hydro hookup, especially in the two Aboriginal communities of Kitigan Zibi and Lac-Rapide.
According to the Kitigan Zibi Community, high priorities for the community include jobs for Aboriginals, economic growth in areas like education, harvesting — mainly small fruits, berries and organic foods– and forestry.
About 33% of those polled in the community believe that forestry will also be a significant acidity in the future and the sector’s development should be a priority.
For the residents of Lac-Rapide, health and safety of homes has remained on the top of the list of priorities since 2006. Investments into housing, municipal affairs and education facilities are also of significance.
Agriculture also continues to remain an important issue to beef and dairy farmers within the area.
NDP: Mathieu Ravignat
Before being elected as the Pontiac incumbent in the 2011 Orange Wave, the Orleans-born Mathieu Ravignat worked for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council where his work focused on Aboriginal and environmental issues. He was also one of the founders of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) local 2626. For the past four years, Ravignat has been the NDP critic for the Treasury Board.
Liberal: William Amos
Will Amos is replacing Cindy Duncan McMillan, who ran as the area’s Liberal candidate for two elections. Before running, Amos worked in the private, public and non-profit sectors in various legal areas and currently serves as the regional director of a national environmental law charity and teaches at the University of Ottawa.
Conservative: Benjamin Woodman
Benjamin Woodman is replacing Lawrence Cannon, who served as the MP for the Pontiac area for two terms. He was raised in Shawville, Quebec and has worked in the Office of a MP, the Office of the PM and served under two Ministers of Veterans Affairs. He is the recipient of a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal from a Veterans organization for his work within the veteran community. Woodman is also a member of theCanadian Armed Forces Reserves and currently lives in the Gatineau sector of the Pontiac riding.
Bloc: Nicolas Lepage
Nicolas Lepage is another body replacing a previous candidate, this time Maude Tremblay who represented the Bloc in the Pontiac riding for two terms. Lepage is currently a student working on his administration degree with a concentration in finance at the Universite du Quebec en Outaouais. While at university, he was the treasure for the General Association of Students.
Green: Colin Griffiths
Newcomer Colin Griffiths is replace Louis-Philippe Maynard as the representative for the Green Party. He is a computing specialist, entrepreneur, researcher and environmentalist. Griffiths also sits on Shadow Cabinet as the Science and Technology critic and helped found the Innis Point Bird Observatory. He is since retired.
Riding situated in western Quebec
Considered a “bellwether” riding with the winner of the area often mirroring the government in power until 2011 during the Orange Wave
A rural-urban riding
Agriculture, forestry and improving living conditions remains top priorities for voters
Over 60% of people voted in the 2011 elections