GASPÉ - The former Québec solidaire Member of the National Assembly for Rouyn-Noranda-Témiscamingue, Émilise Lessard-Therrien, made a detour to the Gaspé Peninsula, stopping in Gaspé on August 17 to promote her candidacy to replace Manon Massé as co-spokesperson for her party. Defending the interests of Quebec’s regions is at the top of her list of priorities should she win the race in November.
“I found myself overnight with nothing, but a fire that still burns for Quebec and the regions in particular. I want to focus on getting Québec solidaire more firmly rooted in the regions of Quebec and to bring geographic diversity to the leadership, so that we can have a more rooted discourse (political program) that better addresses the issues of Quebecers living outside urban centres,” says the defeated October 2022 candidate, Ms. Lessard-Therrien, 31, who clearly very spirited when it comes to politics.
“The regions have particularities, but we have common denominators when we talk about remoteness, inequality from the point of view of the granting of public services, our leisure activities, and culture. In short, these are things that I know, so we can have a program which people will recognize,” continues Ms. Lessard-Therrien who affirms that her party has “the best proposals for the regions.
She wants to de-urbanize decision-making and regional issues must be put forward.
“We have to address them. With what is happening in the Gaspésie with the closure of emergencies, the disruption of obstetrics services... Often, we talk about it among ourselves, but it has to get out of the regions for us to be able to resolve these issues. I see myself as a bridge to bring these issues out,” she says.
She adds the issue of transportation to “de-isolate” the regions and find alternative ways to abandon the second car.
"It can be by train, intercity transport, very local public transport, or air transport in cases of force majeure when we can't be served any other way," she confides.
The fact that she is not a Member of the National Assembly (MNA) is not seen as an obstacle to her candidacy.
The former MNA wants to make Quebec Solidaire’s voice heard in the regions, where her party has plateaued since the 2018 election.
She is focusing on three areas: the territory, which is particularly affected by climate change, sovereignty in order to devolve powers to the regions, and the economy.
“The current climate crisis is caused by the economic system in which we live. Alternatives must be found by focusing on secondary processing, on the local and circular economy. We have to try to bring the added value of our natural resources in Quebec to the communities where these resources are found. That makes communities less dependent on large corporations,” says Ms. Lessard-Therrien.
While the party is moving in the direction of cultural and gender diversity, she doesn’t see being a white woman as a disadvantage.
“We don’t have anyone who comes from remote regions, from rural areas. I think the issue of geographic diversity is as important as the issue of diversity in general. I remain a white woman, but at the same time, there is an important statement: I am 31 years old, I am a young woman and mother who lives eight hours from Montreal. For me, it's a statement that politics is for young people, it's for women, for parents and especially for people from remote areas who have been evacuated too much from places of influence, which means that we find ourselves less in the great collective conversation,” the candidate states.