Foucher gains limelight after debate snub

Would clean up Laval in first 100 days 

By Robert Frank

Jacques Foucher leapt to prominence last week, after he was barred from two, back-to-back mayoralty debates because he doesn’t belong to a political party.

Paradoxically, the exclusion has made Foucher a contender in the final days of Laval’s municipal election campaign by thrusting him into the limelight—with a huge number of voters undecided about which of the nine mayoral candidates they will cast their ballot for and mere percentage points separating the frontrunners for the mayor’s office among committed voters.

Despite Foucher’s solid credentials—a lawyer who for 17 years has run several Quebec cities (currently Joliette) as a senior municipal civil servant—both the Laval Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Oct. 23) and Radio-Canada (Oct. 25) ran debates that excluded independent candidates.

“Shame on Radio-Canada,” Foucher said in an interview. “It’s an insult to democracy. Debate organizer Michel C. Auger has deprived Laval voters of the information that they need in order to vote knowledgeably about the nearly 40 percent of Laval candidates who are running as independents. That’s far more candidates than any individual party slate.”

He contended that it is the political party system itself that has permitted corruption and collusion in Quebec, by making politicians’ first loyalty their party, rather than the people who elect them.

“The debate organizers are sending a message that they still want Vallancourt-like politics and believe that there’s no place for independent politicians on city council,” Foucher asserted.

Foucher, who sat through the Oct. 23 debate in the audience, deplored the mudslinging exchanges that he witnessed.

“That’s not the sort of debate I would engage in,” he said. “I’m the only candidate with enough experience in running a city to take the reins the very first day.”

He added that in the first 100 days after he is elected, he would attack the biggest irritants that have dogged Laval.

“We would have to restore confidence through broad public consultation, and follow up on every query,” he promised. “The onus has to be on the city to adapt to its residents’ needs, not vice versa.

“In public transport, the city needs reserved bus lanes. To improve quality of life, we need to export best practices from one district to another. We need to provide better support to welcome immigrants here. As a father of a reconstituted family of 12 children, I’m also attuned to youth. We need to create jobs and ensure that we listen to and include young people in our communications—particularly through the electronic media which they are so adept at using.”

“I’m inviting citizens to cast their ballot for me as a protest vote,” Foucher concluded.

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  1. […] Demers, Gobé and Bordeleau have all run long, strong and well-organized campaigns, as has independent mayoral candidate Jacques Foucher, whom the Laval Chamber of Commerce and Industry excluded from last week’s debate (see accompanying report). […]

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