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Park-Ex citizens weigh in as federal election kicks off

By Joe Bongiorno

The people of Park-Extension weighed in on Canada’s upcoming federal election as the first week of the campaign wrapped up.

The 36-day campaign race for the Papineau riding took off after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called a snap election on August 14. Election posters sprung up all over Park-Extension. Trudeau, NDP candidate Christine Paré and her part leader Jagmeet Singh’s faces dominated Jean-Talon, Athena Park, and the surroundings of Parc Station. Posters of Conservative, Bloc Québécois, and Green Party candidates were noticeably absent from the streets of Park-Extension at the moment this article was written.

The current representative of the Papineau riding, which includes the borough of Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension, is held by the Prime Minister.

According to an Ipsos national poll conducted for Global News between August 13-16, the Liberals are leading the pack with 36 per cent of the vote, the Conservatives are second with 31 per cent, and the NDP is third with 20 percent followed by the Green Party at five per cent.

But where do Park-Extension citizens stand on the electoral race?

Community pulse

Frank Monthy was struck by how the Liberal posters outnumber those of the other parties.

“Trudeau handled the pandemic perfectly, so people will vote for him,” he said. “You couldn’t have done it better.”

Monthy said the Prime Minister was right to call an election and that he will win in a landslide. In fact, he said he was planning on voting for Trudeau with the economy as his biggest concern. In terms of the other candidates, he said he was not impressed. “I don’t see anything new that can be brought from other political parties.”

But not everyone in Park-Extension has decided who to give their vote to.

Denise Fournier and her husband George Zervos are undecided.

“With everything the way it's going, we're not sure anymore,” said Fournier.

Fournier believes that the Prime Minister should have refrained from calling the election so early with the pandemic still ongoing.

At the same time, Zervos thinks that it was a smart political move. “[Trudeau] has been giving a lot of money out, and a lot of people probably happy with that.”

While there is no single issue swaying their vote, Zervos said he would like to see more assistance to the elderly in need and action to prevent rent hikes.

“The rents are going sky high,” he said. “We don't have our own homes.”

New to Park-Extension, Laura, who chose not to give her full name, usually leans toward the NDP, but she said that she had not yet decided which name she would check off at the ballot box in September.

“I'm not particularly impressed [with the Liberals],” said Laura. “For the most part, I think that there are certain communities that feel like they've been left in the dust in terms of like pandemic. I think a lot of that has to do with the overall federal structure. I think we are due for a change.”

Socioeconomic and equity issues are important to Laura. “I'd like to see a lot more attention to social programs in terms of like [assisting] the homeless population,” she said. “I'd really like to see some of the money that goes into policing in Canada redistributed into social programs or arts programs of various kinds. I think that's the main thing for me right now.”

The view from afar

Kristen Monnik just moved to Canada from New Orleans. This election will be her first since making the move north.

“I’m actually blown away by how short the election cycle is here,” said Monnik. “In the States, it’s two years and it’s non-stop.”

In the United States, election posters are much more pervasive and can be found on medians, on billboards, in front yards, and in front of colleges, she said.

“More signs, bigger signs. Here, it’s there, you can see it, but it’s not overwhelming.”

Although Monnik is new to Canada, she knows what she would like to see in a Canadian leader. “Someone who really cares about the people and who cares about getting the results and not just talking,” she said.

Recent riding history

In the 2019 election, Trudeau won his Papineau seat with 51.2 per cent of the vote. Paré came in second with 18.9 per cent, Christian Gagnon of the Bloc Québécois came in third with 15.9 per cent, the Green Party’s Juan Vazquez came in at 7.6 percent, and Sophie Veilleux of the Conservatives trailed at 4.3 per cent.

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