The Roussillon Community Development Corporation invited some federal candidates from the Chateauguay-Lacolle riding to come and answer its questions prior to the October 21 elections. Three candidates volunteered themselves for the event. The Soleil de Chateauguay is interested in the issue of itinerance in Chateauguay.
Translation Dan Rosenburg
Linda Gervais, coordinator of the Réseau d’information et d’aide aux personnes assistées sociales interviewed the candidates on the subject. In 2018, Gervais reported to the newspaper the existence of a ‘’hidden’’ itinerance in the region. ‘’(Such people) are difficult to enumerate because they move and they hide themselves,’’ she explained. ‘’There are some who sleep near the shopping centre or who sleep in their car.’’
Except for the house for women victims of conjugal violence and the Auberge du Cœur de l’Elan des Jeunes, destined for people aged from 16 to 22, ‘’we have no resource currently on our territory for people who live in itinerance. We have to send them to Valleyfield or Longueuil,’’ Gervais explained. ‘’Do you pledge to help us to have this type of resource on our territory?’’
‘’For sure,’’ replied outgoing Liberal MP Brenda Shanahan. She mentioned that she would work in partnership with her fellow elected officials from the provincial government. ‘’At the federal level, it is the infrastructure that we can build. If they agree, the provincials can take of the day-to-day operations.’’
The Bloc Quebecois candidate, Claudia Valdivia, is also committing herself in this sense if she is elected. ‘’Yes, Chateauguay should have a home to save people from itinerance. If I become MP, you can come and sit down with me. We can compile a dossier and not only raise money on the federal level, but also on the provincial scale,’’ she proposed.
The Green Party candidate, Meryam Haddad, more or less replied to the question in front of the community groups. She clarified her thoughts to the newspaper. ‘’I am personally engaging myself to build a house for itinerant people in the Chateauguay region because the access to affordable lodgings, mental health problems and dependencies on drugs are some problems that we must address in our riding,’’ she explained.
Concept of meeting
The CDC Roussillon unites together 44 community groups from the region. Each candidate had one minute and 30 seconds to reply to each of the eight questions asked. They addressed themselves to the groups one by one. The themes of the environment, abortion, aboriginal issues, the elderly, the right to a dwelling, food assurance and job insurance were brought up.
Conservative candidate Hugues Laplante was invited to the event but was not available according to the organizers.