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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The voice of the Pontiac since 1883

Volume 129, Issue No. 15

1 dollar

A ticking time bomb

Hamish McKillop, THE EQUITY

Numerous signs such as these advertising 9-1-1 services can be found in the municipality of Campbell’s Bay, and are also scattered up and down Hwy. 148 near Bryson. Pontiac MRC is currently looking into a solution for a years old problem that could prevent 9-1-1 access to the entire county if phone lines ever went down.

Horizon X wins tourism award Rafting company Horizon X, based in Calumet Island, was one of the winners in the eco and adventure tourism category at the 26th annual Grand Prix du Tourisme de l'Outaouais awards on April 4 at the Hilton Lac Leamy Hotel. “They were the only ones ANDREA CRANFIELD from Pontiac who won,” said Equity Editor Anne Chardon, a media relaCALUMET ISLAND April 4, 2012 tions coordinator at Tourisme Outaouais, the company who organizes the competition. Isabelle Gagnon and her husband Martin Bertrand who own Horizon X were nominated for a Grand Prix du Tourisme award a couple years ago, but this is the first time they've won. After 250 companies based in the Outaouais region applied, the list was whittled down to 23 finalists in the tourism and human resources categories. There were 12 winners altogether. Chutes Coulonge, the Bryson House and Escapade Eskimo were also finalists in the tourism category. Individuals were also awarded for their efforts in the tourism industry in the human resources category. Former Pontiac MP Lawrence Cannon was named tourism personality of the year. The regional edition of the Quebec Tourism Awards chooses companies that show achievements in the tourism industry, providing the winners with recognition and visibility to tourists. “Just putting (the award) on the website, the visitor will go to Horizon X and see that they won a prize from Tourisme Outaouais and visitors are more trusting when they see those prizes,” said Chardon. “For me, when I buy some wine if I see a prize, I don’t know what the prize is all about but I will trust the bottle of wine because they won a prize. So this is the same with all the touristic companies.” Please see AWARDS page two

Ravignat on the budget and Mulclair’s rise to leader of NDP If you dig a little deeper into the federal budget, past talks of the penny becoming extinct and accolades from British Prime Minister David Cameron, some Canadians may be JULIELEE STITT disquieted Equity Reporter with what PONTIAC Apr. 4, 2012 they find. At least MP Mathieu Ravignat is. In a press release on his website, Pontiac’s representative in the House of Commons called the budget a betrayal of “Quebec and the rest of Canada.” On Wednesday afternoon, following Question Period, the MP was a little more tepid in his criticisms of the budget that was presented to Canadians on March 29. However, he was still disquieted by what he found (or didn’t find) within the 498 page document. Among the people Ravignat says he is upset to see left behind by the budget are those who work in forestry and the public services. “I think it’s a tricky budget, what I mean by that is that you have to dig deeper to find some of the hidden cuts that are there. But clearly, for every $9 that are cut only $1 is invested in job creation and that wor-

ries us a lot,” says Ravignat. Ravignat was particularly upset by the lack of investment in Quebec and the forestry industry. “They cut $28 to $29 million out of Economic Development Canada to regions in Quebec. So they’ve reduced the amount of money that can go to developing projects in regions like ours and that’s very worrisome,” says Ravignat. “It would seem that it’s a direct target to Quebec,” he says. While $105 million will be directed towards innovation and commercialization in the forestry sector, Ravignat says the funds were promised before the budget was announced. “That $105 million had already been announced so it’s not new money and so clearly the forestry sector — particularly in Quebec — is in crisis and there’s nothing in the budget to stabilize the sector and ensure that jobs are kept in that area and that’s of particular concern,” he says. Another area that has raised alarms for the MP are cuts to the public services, which could cost some people their jobs and other Canadians services. Among the

departments to receive cuts are Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, Agriculture and AgriFood, Canada Revenue Agency, Health, Human Resources and Skills Development, National D e f e n s e Spending and Public Safety. Please see NDP page two

Mathieu’s got milk Pontiac New Democrat MP Mathieu Ravignat (assistant deputy critic for International Trade) strongly defends the efficiency of the Supply Management system, pointing out its benefits for the country’s and his riding’s dairy producers. Ravignat met in Shawville with local dairy producers to discuss this issue. Please see MILK page two

Hitting the mats Julielee Stitt, THE EQUITY

Instructors George Lafleur and Steve Lawn demonstrate a new technique at a striking and grappling course being subsidized by the Maison des Jeunes in Shawville. See story inside.

Pontiac MRC is still seeking answers from telecom giant Bell Aliant as to why, for as long as some can recall, residents have been without a redundant system to back up 9-1-1 access in case the lines fail. In its Oct. 15, 2008 issue, THE EQUITY reported a flurry of 15 fires in HAMISH MCKILLOP Pontiac spanning Equity Reporter two months, or one CAMPBELL’S BAY March 27, 2012 every four days on average, in the second half of that year. One of those fires tore through a Luskville barn on Oct. 8 of that year at the intersection of Hwy. 148 and Chemin de la Montagne. That blaze was classified by Pontiac Fire Department firefighter Michelle Dubois as being a “full fire,” hot enough that it burned through the phone lines, causing a nine-and-a-half-hour phone outage all night for residents across all of MRC Pontiac and at least parts of MRC des Collines. According to experts, at least the whole Pontiac county could experience a repeat performance again at any time, leaving at least 18 municipalities without 9-1-1. Pontiac Mayor Eddie McCann, who said the municipality of Pontiac was also affected by the Luskville barn fire at Hwy. 148 and Chemin de la Montagne, stated that while there are mulitple providers of high speed Internet in the region, Bell is the sole provider of the landline telephone network in McCann’s region and that this monopoly could pose a danger when no backup landline system is in place. “This is an example of where these companies need to build into their service – and therefore into their pricing – the basic service, and this has to be one of the conditions, or should be one of the conditions, that’s the minimum service provided and to be able to guarantee it to that point,” said McCann. “There’s no doubt these guys ... are all profit driven, bottom-line-driven, but these are the minimum services that people should have for sure,” said McCann. Mario Allen, who has been the Fire Chief at Pontiac Fire Dept. for a year spending eight years as captain, said “the fire department…we can still be dispatched – we work through other [radio] ways – but for some people at their own place trying to get some help, for them to try to reach 9-1-1, they will have a hard time if they don’t have a cell phone. So, they’re the ones who are stuck for a few hours until the lines get back together.” Allen said the cause of the Luskville fire remains “undetermined.” Donald Gagnon, mayor of Chichester, said the lack of a redundant phone system has been prevalent long enough that, “they didn’t have a backup for probably since they put the system in.” Gagnon also said when the phone lines went down on Oct. 8, the Shawville Hospital was also without the ability to dial in or out. A scheduled presentation from Bell Aliant representative Richard Leblond at MRC Pontiac’s March 27 mayor’s meeting sparked its own flurry among some council members still wondering if residents in an emergency situation following a phone line failure would have to run down the road to a fire station for help. For the past three-and-a-half years, the council has been trying to get Bell Aliant to build in a redundancy system into the telecom giant’s fibre optic lines along Hwy. 148 that feeds the 18 municipalities in Pontiac. One of the meeting’s defining moments may have been Raymond Durocher, mayor of Fort-Coulonge, turning left slightly to address Leblond sitting directly next to him, who reported to the council that after four years, Pontiac residents still without a 9-1-1 backup system would be best off with one despite the potential high cost that was estimated at $750,000, according to Leblond at the council meeting. “If I wrote to my boss or his boss, they’re not going to have that. It’s three quarters of a million dollars, with no new customers at the end,” Leblond told the council of mayors. “Twice – twice in a row, similar problems, and [Bell Aliant] is hard to contact. Yes, we’ve been patient, but not any more,” said Durocher. Frustrated by the snail’s pace at which Bell has progressed with the file, Durocher said that at the end of the day, building in a backup phone system “won’t be an MRC responsibility. It will be a Bell Aliant responsibility." Leblond could not be reached for comment, but Paul Lacoursière, Director of Corporate Affairs in Québec and Ontario for Télébec, said it is not uncommon for Bell to not provide a double entry point (backup system) to all municipalities. Please see 911 page two


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EQUITY Clippings: April 4 - July 11  

My adverntures through Pontiac writing for The Equity drew me to some amazing stories. Here are a few notable stories that were great report...

EQUITY Clippings: April 4 - July 11  

My adverntures through Pontiac writing for The Equity drew me to some amazing stories. Here are a few notable stories that were great report...