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On the road: The broken road that crowns | Elections Quebec 2022

Ivanoh chose the coast, but at Manche-d’Épée, he regretted it. Eaten away by erosion, salty air and winter, the 132 is in a bad state. Especially on this stretch. Trucks come and go. A dozen workers are working to fix it as much as possible; others chat on the side of the road.

We have to wait long minutes before continuing the road to Gaspé, where we have an appointment with Claudine Roy.

Road works on Chemin de Gaspé

Photo: Radio-Canada / Ivanoh Demers

I can’t swear in a Radio-Canada report, all the same, but I’m in TA***. When we talk about infrastructure, we are not making progress; we step backthunders Claudine Roy in front of a train that has been immobilized for years at the Gaspé station. This train cost millions of dollars, she told me; a train that was to bring tourists to where Jacques-Cartier first set foot on Canadian lands. Today it is inhabited by squatters. It hasn’t moved for about ten years because the tracks are too damaged for the train to run.

Claudine Roy, a businesswoman from the region, has devoted her life to promoting her Gaspésie, which she calls the country, in particular by creating the Grandes Traversées de la Gaspésie in cross-country skiing. Rather jovial and optimistic by nature, she gets angry when it comes to transportation. No more trains, rare planes often late, a deficient bus service and a road in distress: We are in a dead end! she says, frowning.

We let our infrastructure go, because governments think in the short term, the duration of a four-year mandate. But building doesn’t take four years; I know it, all entrepreneurs know it, she underlines. So why is the government unable to take a long-term view of the common good?

In front of the airfield.

Former PQ minister Gaétan Lelièvre

Photo: Radio-Canada / Ivanoh Demers

At Gaspé airport, which Air Canada aircraft deserted in 2020, the wind picked up. It is suddenly chilly. Minister Delegate for Regional Development in the government of Pauline Marois, Gaétan Lelièvre is delighted that it is cold, even if he is in short sleeves. Gaspesians are not chilly, he said. Although he is no longer involved in politics, he is still active in the development of his region and has studied in depth the problem of transport in the peninsula.

We are no longer a remote region, we are an isolated region, he summarizes. Since Air Canada ceased serving the region, smaller carriers have been providing service. The Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) has also set up the famous $500 ticket program, but even if it were free, there is often no space on the plane.

I ask Gaétan Lelièvre what he thinks of the famous third link, this project which consists of connecting Quebec to Lévis at the cost of billions. The Gaspésien will not comment on this thorny issue, but he suggests that in the absence of three links, he would take at least one that makes sense: The Gaspé Peninsula simply lacks links.

Beyond the down-to-earth aspect of moving from point A to point B, what alarms Gaétan Lelièvre is the very future of his part of the country. We have an aging population; we have a huge demographic challengehe underlines as even the old leave and the young are slow to return.

The former minister says that, already, sick or simply aging people are choosing to leave the region because going to treatment in major centers is too tedious. : on aime recevoir, on est accueillants, mais comment attirer de nouveaux arrivants quand les liens vers l’ouest de la province sont déficients?”,”text”:”C’est dans notre ADN en Gaspésie: on aime recevoir, on est accueillants, mais comment attirer de nouveaux arrivants quand les liens vers l’ouest de la province sont déficients?”}}”>It’s in our DNA in Gaspésie: we like to receive people, we are welcoming, but how do we attract newcomers when the links to the west of the province are lacking? he wonders.

The sea extends to the hollow of the bay.

Yvon-Roméo Ngaualang-Kenne in front of Gaspé Bay

Photo: Radio-Canada / Ivanoh Demers

Coming from Cameroon to work as a beneficiary attendant in Gaspé, Yvon-Roméo Ngaualang-Kenne loves Gaspé. I wouldn’t leave Gaspé for anything in the world, he said with great gentleness. Between Romeo and Gaspésie, it’s love. He says that, as soon as he arrived, a little over a year ago, colleagues and neighbors invited him to eat, helped him settle in.

Since living in Quebec, the 36-year-old man has not resolved to visit Montreal. It’s a long road to get there. It’s long in ta-bar-nakhe says, clearly detaching the syllables of this word which makes him laugh.

At the end of the peninsula, Yvon-Roméo was surprised to find a small Cameroonian community. It’s crazy to find people from home at the end of the world! he throws in ecstasy. A part of the world where the winters are particularly harsh. The trained nurse, who wants to pass exams to be able to practice the profession in Quebec, remembers his first months here, without a car. Since there is no public transit in Gaspé, he had to walk to work. But of the squall and the cold, Yvon-Roméo will say this, an image full of poetry: I tamed winter as one tames a wild horse.

Small Quebec flags line the gallery.

Daniel Samson in front of his café in Saint-Majorique

Photo: Radio-Canada / Ivanoh Demers

With his girlfriend, Anick Desrosiers, and his five children, Daniel Samson, a philosopher by training, regularly came on vacation to Gaspésie. A few years ago, the little family decided to drop everything, leave Lanaudière and settle on the shores of Gaspé Bay. The couple bought the old presbytery of Saint-Majorique; they have opened a café there that smells of fresh bread. The problem of the road to get to Gaspésie also crowned Daniel. His family is a thousand miles from home, and for the grandparents of the little ones, it’s not easy.

The Café de la Traverse, located in the old presbytery, is frequented more by locals than by tourists. We exchange ideas, we talk about it, we confide in it. While the media keep repeating that the issue of Quebec independence no longer has any resonance, I hear about it every day. And Daniel Samson, who is also a psychoanalyst, listens attentively. People wonder why we are not a country yet. Why this subject, we should not talk about it anymore.

At 44, Samson first voted in 1995. And he voted yes. He wished he could say yes again. Sovereignty is not to be all alone together, but to make a country open to the world, green and welcoming. The PQ is not deadhe said, aware of the many obstacles on the way to sovereignty.

Leaving the café, a sign indicates that the crossing overlooking the majestic Gaspé Bay is closed for repairs. There is still a long detour to get to the hotel.

In front of the colony of orange cones, Ivanoh and I dropped, in chorus, a word that begins with YOUR

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