Premier touches down in the Townships

Photo: Gordon Lambie
By: 
Gordon Lambie
Staff Writer

Quebec’s Premier, Philippe Couillard, was in the Townships on Monday for two stops, one in Sherbrooke and one in Richmond. Whereas the premier’s reception in the regional capital was coloured by the presence of a large group of Public Sector Protestors, he was welcomed with open arms and a standing ovation at the Richmond Legion.

The Premier’s message was broad, touching on all aspects of Quebec society, but generally presented a bright view of the state of affairs in the province in the present day.

“There is no such thing as austerity in Quebec,” Couillard said. “Austerity means a decrease in government budgets and unfortunately, because of inadequate information that sometimes circulates, I still meet people who think that is the case event though the budgets of government programs in the province of Quebec increased this year.”

Speaking before an audience of community members and leaders that included the mayors and prefects of numerous neighbouring communities, Brendalee Piironen of the Wales Home, Michael Murray of the Eastern Townships School Board, and Gerald
Cutting of the Townshippers’ association among others, the premier explained that Quebec was the Canadian province with the third largest growth in its budget this past year and called the discourse of austerity that is taking place incredible in light of that information.

While Couillard did not address the matter of public protest directly in his Richmond speech, Vallieres took a moment to do so, if only to repeat the position that the Liberals have offered throughout their time in office.

“I know that there are some groups demonstrating and unions striking,” Vallieres said. “We will listen to them and I hope we can reach a negotiated agreement, however I am also proud to be a part of a government committed to lowering our public debt and promote economic development.

Both MNAs focused their perspectives on having the collective courage to make difficult but necessary changes while using public funds in a responsible way.

Valiieres also took advantage of the opportunity to present Richmond Legion President Marjorie Lancaster with the Medal of the National Assembly in recognition of all of the work she has done through her role over the years. The MNA called Lancaster an “Invaluable resource for the community” with regard to the services she has rendered to both Anglophones and Francophones in the Richmond region through implication in a variety of community organizations.

For her part, Lancaster said that the honour was a pleasant surprise and a gift she never saw coming.

Following the presentation of the medal, the legion presented Couillard with a gift package slate painting by local artist Sandy Roberts.

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