With a healthy majority, Liberals can focus on long-neglected West Island

With a healthy majority, Liberals can focus on long-neglected West Island

By Kevin Woodhouse

The winds of change have swept through the province of Quebec, denying Pauline Marois and her Parti québécois the right to make xenophobic and absurd changes to Quebec law while ignoring the real issues that affect Quebecers: health, education and the economy.

And now that Philippe Couillard and the Liberal Party have secured a majority, the new government can turn the page on negativity, stagnant growth and divisive politics and begin to re-build the province.

For West Island residents, the last 18 months under the PQ minority has been an absence of getting anything done here. Remember the proposed 440 extension that had been budgeted and approved by the previous Liberal government? That project was dead in the water and traffic concerns continue to mount for West Islanders just trying to get to and from work every morning without languishing in congestion.

Another way to help commuters would be the construction of the Jacques Bizard corridor to alleviate north-south congestion.

How about the Dorval Circle aka the Bridge To Nowhere that seems to have ballooned in cost? Can that constant reminder of how not to handle infrastructure be once again front and centre so that something can be accomplished within a meaningful timetable? With a projected cost of about $500 million, how much bang can we expect for our buck?

Another big ticket item that could really help commuters would be to put the Train de l’ouest high speed rail onto the front burner. A $22 million study was commissioned and the cost for the rail to go from Vaudreuil into the city centre is about $1 billion. Not chump change for a province heavily in debt, but how much money is lost when workers are stuck in traffic? Not to mention the environmental cost and the pounding our infrastructure takes as there are too many cars on the road. The city of Kirkland noted last year that each day, there are 4,000 more cars on St. Charles than what the boulevard was originally meant to handle.

With the new MUHC hospital promising to be a technological wonder, it is still 25 per cent smaller than what the older hospital’s capacity was, which will force the Lakeshore General Hospital to not only take more patients but develop even more resources. Now would be a good time for our Four Amigos to stand together to rectify the constant underfunding at the LGH and bring it into the 21st century in terms of equitable funding.

And while the Liberal Party does have a plan to open up super clinics and base funding on patient numbers, how long will West Islanders have to wait in the ER before these new funding techniques are put into place and said clinics are open for business. In the meantime, the Liberals, if they do not want to continually be told that West Island voters are taken for granted, need to write a cheque for $36 million to the LGH. That is the amount needed to handle the rise in patients.

It is safe to assume that a few of the new Amigos will also get cabinet nods. That will help raise the profile of certain ridings, but let’s hope that Geoffrey Kelley, Martin Coiteux, Carlos Leitão and Francois Ouimet remember that no matter what high profile ministry they get to be in charge of, their first priority must be for their constituents who gave them their jobs in the first place.

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Newly elected Premier Philippe Couillard—seen here campaigning in Laval, April 4, where the Quebec Liberal Party subsequently swept all six ridings—won a majority election on April 7.
(Photo © Robert Frank)
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