Cynicism is the biggest problem, according to the Parti Québécois (PQ) candidate in Argenteuil.
“We want to talk about democracy,” said Patrick Côté, who blames 15 years of mostly Liberal government in Québec for cuts to public services and ethics scandals that have caused voters to have negative feelings towards public institutions. Côté blasted candidates who have “shopped” for parties to run for and said they are choosing parties as though they are vacation packages. Gertrude Bourdon, the Liberal candidate in the Québec City riding of Jean-Lesage had been courted by the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) as a candidate but she rejected its invitation and joined the Liberals when the CAQ would not agree to her demands, which included being named Minister of Health if the party forms the next government. Côté said examples like that have also fueled cynicism among voters.
The solution, according to Côté, is engagement with citizens. He wants to connect better with people and has various ideas for doing that. They include having an annual event where citizens could “roast” their representative with questions and comments. Côté would have a local office in Lachute but would also have an itinerant office that would visit other communities in Argenteuil to attend to constituent needs. Another of his plans is to create citizens committees on certain issues like health, education, and economic development. Those committees would meet and give recommendations and ask questions. Côté said the committees would “Build a bridge between the population and their representative.” He also plans to do a weekly live chat on Facebook each week if he becomes the next Member of the National Assembly for Argenteuil. On a more institutional level, Côté said he wants to establish positive partnerships with municipal leaders and school boards by having annual gatherings with them.
Patrick Côté lives in St-André-d’Argenteuil. His career background is in education as a teacher, vice-principal, and in training with two different school boards and a public college. He also served on the volunteer fire department. He said he believes in the Parti Québécois and its values of social democracy and independence for Québec. When asked if the PQ is still a social democratic party, Côté acknowledged it had taken more conservative positions in the past but said the current policies and platform are based on social democratic principles. “We’ve returned to the base of the past,” he said.
The question of Québec independence is an uncomfortable one for many voters, especially anglophones. However, Côté said an independent Québec would be inclusive. “This project is for everybody, it doesn’t matter if you’re anglophone or francophone,” he said, noting that there are anglophones who support the PQ and are even candidates for the party in the October 1 election. Côté said that if the PQ forms the next government, there would be no referendum during that first four-year mandate because time is needed to plan and organize how the process would be implemented.