• Nikki Mantell

Pontiac up for grabs

Prior to that fateful day a screenshot of MP Will Amos in the buff went viral, Pontiac riding voters could feel fairly confident that, should an election be called, the result would be a repeat in red. This riding has a history of voting Liberal, Amos had proven himself to be a good, hard-working MP, and in 2019 he won with 49 per cent of the vote.


But now that he has stepped down, voters, especially in this area of the riding, will be thinking hard about where to cast their vote. His replacement, Sophie Chatel, who parachuted in at the last minute, is mostly unknown in these parts. Add to that the most recent polls show the Liberal Party to have lost its lead and it’s fair to say that the Pontiac seat is up for grabs.


Climate change and its impact on the environment has to be – or at least it should be – the number one issue of this election. While the pandemic response, Truth and Reconciliation, English minority rights impacted by Bill C-32 and Bill 96 are all urgent matters, the imminent catastrophe awaiting us, as spelled out in the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, is an existential emergency that demands action. Or, in other words, the recent out-of-control forest fires out west, record-breaking heat waves in Quebec, even just the closing of Lac Phillippe beaches for blue green algae, and other “wow, it’s really happening” incidents close to home are scary as hell and voters may finally be ready to park their vote with the candidate whose party will take the strongest action to save the planet.


A repeat in red may not be a given. Voters, especially in our readership area who have long shown an interest in environmental issues, may turn this seat from red to green, orange or, perhaps even blue (if voters deem the Conservative platform on the environment holds up to that of other parties).


Here in Low Down Nation, we have two strong local candidates: Cantley’s Denise Giroux may have pushed the deadline to announce her candidacy for the NDP, but voters who paid attention last election will remember her as an intelligent, well-spoken candidate who did her homework on the issues. She impressed many at the all-candidates debates two years ago.


Also, all eyes are on the Green Party. Wakefield’s Shaughn McArthur may be new, but he announced early with eager enthusiasm, and is also a bright, articulate candidate. His campaign-trail-by-kayak this week may just be up Gatineau Hills voters’ alley (or is that river?).


And though he’s not local to the Hills, Michel Gauthier of Maniwaki is a very respectable representative for the Conservative Party. His career in journalism from paperboy to editor of Le Droit (a great paper) suggests he’s the thoughtful, balanced type. He’s also known in his ‘hood for volunteering for his local culture and health organizations.


Losing Amos has left a hole in this very important election and it will be very hard to predict how voters fill it.