Will the riding of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell change color again?

It’s 30 degrees Celsius and the sun is unforgiving. Despite everything, the candidate walks at a rapid pace, even alternating with short races. Accompanied by her husband, MP Yvan Baker, her mother-in-law and a volunteer, they target voters they have not already met.

It is certain that campaigns are always difficult because you have to work as if you are 10,000 votes behind. You have to work very hard. »

A quote from Amanda Simard, Liberal candidate in Glengarry-Prescott-Russell

The struggle in this rural area is unique in the province. Liberal for 37 years, the riding of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell (GPR) passed into the hands of the Progressive Conservative Party in 2018. Thanks to an opposition movement against the leader of the Liberal Party, Kathleen Wynne, and a record result by the New Democratic Party (NDP), Conservative candidate Amanda Simard was able to sneak in and win the election.

A woman from behind is talking with another woman who has opened the door to her house ajar and is holding a red and white leaflet in her hand.

Liberal candidate Amanda Simard meets voters during her door-to-door and some tell her they will vote for her.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Rémi Authier

But a few months later, she slammed the door of Doug Ford’s party before joining the Liberals in January 2020.

This year, she is again asking voters to trust her, but with a different background. She says she meets new voters she met during the first campaign and that several people assure her that they trust her, unlike the leader of the party she left. She also does not believe that the region is as conservative as the neighboring ridings because of the presence of several large villages in GPR .

Will the brilliance that made him known during his first mandate influence his fellow citizens and maintain GPR in the reds? In a political system where leaders get almost all the attention, the question is whether Amanda Simard’s name on the ballot will have an impact or whether the preference for a party or a leader will be decisive.

It is always said that the candidate makes just a minimal difference. At most, I think the stat is 12% max, which isn’t a lot. But it makes a difference in a tight race. »

A quote from Amanda Simard, Liberal candidate in Glengarry-Prescott-Russell
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A criticized absence

Although she has become well known to the public because of her change of party, Amanda Simard does not only have support in the region. First, the Progressive Conservatives won 41% of the vote in GPR in the last election and saw their vote share increase in the majority of ridings in Eastern Ontario. Secondly, some criticize her for not having been present enough.

I have never met Ms. Simard on a one-to-one basis. I just got a call from his office once since 2018. »

A quote from Paula Assaly, Mayor of Hawkesbury

This is the main criticism made by the Mayor of Hawkesbury, Paula Assaly, who considers that it is difficult for her to assess the work of the MP given her absence.

Hawkesbury Mayor Paula Assaly seated at a table with a microphone in front of her.

Hawkesbury Mayor Paula Assaly.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Denis Babin

The mayor indicates that she was unable to work on important files for her municipality with the Liberal MP because the latter was absent from the scene. Paula Assaly is sorry not to have had an ally at Queen’s Park and to have had to work with her personal contact network to obtain access and progress on files.

When you don’t have a rep at Queen’s Park […] it is becoming very difficult for us to move our files forward and to listen to the ministers. […] We have to make sure that the person who will be in Toronto and will represent us is someone who will put in the time necessary to help us present our cases. »

A quote from Paula Assaly, Mayor of Hawkesbury

It is for this reason that the Mayor of Hawkesbury supports the Progressive Conservative candidate and Mayor of Alfred-Plantagenet, Stéphane Sarrazin. Having sat with him on the Regional Council of the United Counties of Prescott and Russell, which he chairs, she says she has seen his great availability and the quality of his work on regional issues.

The local candidate for NDP, Alicia Eglin, is rather critical of the electoral system that allowed Amanda Simard to win four years ago. She underlines that her party wants to change it so that the support of the three parties is better represented and that results like those of the NDP in 2018 in GPR are not ignored.

Appreciated values

Despite this criticism, many citizens of the region expressed their respect, even their admiration for the outgoing MP. Some admit they voted for her when she ran for the Progressive Conservatives, but now they will follow the Liberal candidate.

Many of them evoked her resounding departure from Doug Ford’s party and appreciated that she defended her values ​​when the rights of Francophones were attacked. She also garners support from Anglophones in the region who say they are impressed by the courage she has shown in changing parties and by her desire to defend a minority.

Residents of Embrun met three weeks before polling day, however, remain cautious. They are careful not to predict a liberal tidal wave in the region and the fight promises to be tight in this French-speaking bastion. Impossible for the moment to know what will be the color of the constituency on the evening of June 2.


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