Budding NDP politician represents left-wing alternative for Soulanges
PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG
NDPQ candidate, Eteinne Madelein, offers voters in the Soulanges riding a variety of options for improving the region.
The recently resurrected provincial New Democratic Party of Québec (NPDQ) has a candidate vying for a seat in the National Assembly in the upcoming provincial election. Etienne Madelein, a Rigaud resident, recently told The Journal that NPDQ values and political platform best represent his personal values. “To bring prosperity to this province, to have a healthier, wealthier, greener Québec, we have to go through left-wing federalism,” said Madelein. “We need to invest in our systems and a NPDQ government can do that better than what is happening right now,” he added alluding to the spending cuts of the Liberal government.
Madelein pointed to the Québec education system as an example. “We have an atrocious dropout rate in high schools,” he said attributing the problem to a serious lack of support and resources for students particularly in the area of homework, special needs students and a lack of funding for extracurricular activities. “There are more and more special needs students and too few people to support them, he said.
“For every dollar invested in the education system, we get back a return.” In terms of funding these services, Madelein proposed cutting funding to private schools and the possibility of converting privately funded schools to the public system. Rather than having parents and families pay for after school activities and lunchtime monitors, he supports an education system that covers those expenses plus free schooling at all levels of study including college, university and professional education.
He pointed out a similar situation exists in the healthcare system. “Why not have the Centre Local de Services Communautaires (CLSC) open for longer hours?” he asked. “People shouldn’t have to leave their local community to receive healthcare services,” he said. “It’s a question of providing funding and having staff.”
Support for agriculture
“Obviously, we have to defend our agricultural supply management system tooth and nail,” he stated regarding the current situation with the free trade agreement between Canada and the United States. “However, in terms of agricultural production, we need to improve efficiencies of production.” He pointed out that tools and regulations exist but they are rarely applied because of a lack of communication and education. “These things can help improve productivity and protect the environment,” he said.
In terms of Soulanges’ environmental problems, Madelein pointed out the Rigaud River is the most polluted river in Québec. “It stems from an inter-provincial problem because the river has its source in Ontario,” he said noting that regulations regarding protection of the banks bordering rivers and streams exist but are rarely enforced. “Giving more power to community organizations such as Conseil du basin versant de la région de Vaudreuil-Soulanges (COBAVER –VS) to develop more programs,” he said. “Who better to do this, than the community organization that is already on the ground doing this?”
Madelein is a proponent of communal public transport, carpooling and vehicles powered by electricity. “We need to move quickly to end our dependency on fossil fuels,” he said. For Madelein, moving quickly means making changes over the coming decades by providing subsidies for electric vehicles and the infrastructure to recharge them easily. In rural regions, he sees a need for collective taxis with affordable fares that would transport people to larger traffic hubs that provide train or bus services.
Madelein is currently studying natural sciences at John Abbott College. Not only is this his first foray into the local political scene, having reached the age of eighteen, he is also a first time voter. “I’m voting for the first time and I will be voting for myself,” he said with a chuckle. Fluently bilingual in French and English, Madelein said he is well aware of the challenges he faces on the campaign trail. “It’s definitely an uphill climb. Building a new party is a long process,” he noted emphasizing that he was in the race to win.