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Far from power, but closer to people

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Four months after leaving the Conservative Party, Alain Rayes says he is calm. “Happy”, even.

(Ottawa) Alain Rayes says he’s moved away from the benches of power like never before when he quit the Conservative Party in September. But he adds that since he sits as an independent MP, he has never felt so close to people.

Three months after making one of the most difficult decisions of his political career, the member for Richmond-Arthabaska says he has regained serenity.

In three months, he learned to do politics differently. He had little choice. He no longer had at his disposal the powerful machine that is normally a political party. He also learned to see politics from another angle: collaboration tastes much better.

Mr. Rayes supported former Quebec Premier Jean Charest in the race for the leadership of the Conservative Party, won by Carleton MP Pierre Poilievre in the first round, after an acrimonious campaign of nearly six month.


PHOTO SEAN KILPATRICK, THE CANADIAN PRESS

Alain Rayes, independent MP, in the House of Commons in Ottawa

Wise decision

Two days after Mr. Poilievre’s victory, Mr. Rayes quit the ranks of the Conservative Party, saying he no longer found himself in this formation led by a leader who, according to him, disregards the fight against changes climate change, undermined Canadian institutions by attacking the Bank of Canada and flouted law and order by supporting the convoy of truckers that paralyzed downtown Ottawa for three weeks in February.

“I’m happy,” said the independent MP straight away in an interview with The Press at the Café Moulin de Provence, located a stone’s throw from the parliament, a few days before the end of the session.

“I am regaining energy. I had concerns about whether I could continue to play a role that is interesting and that can allow me to exercise some influence. God knows today that I have never been so far from power, ”he says, smirking.

I had a goal when I entered politics. It was to be useful and to be able to influence the course of things. This is what I have been testing since I became independent. The answer to both of these questions is still yes.

Alain Rayes, independent deputy

The response came quickly. On October 17, Mr. Rayes took advantage of question period in the Commons to question the Minister of Health, Jean-Yves Duclos, about the case of a young woman from his riding, Emmy Pruneau, aged 19. years old and suffering from an incurable cancer.


PHOTO FRÉDÉRIC CÔTÉ, LA TRIBUNE ARCHIVES

Emmy Prune

To slow the progression of the disease, she needed a drug, tazemetostat. The problem was that it was impossible for doctors in Canada to get it, even though it was approved by Health Canada in 2020 and is on sale in the United States and Europe.

Mr. Rayes urged Minister Duclos to remove the administrative obstacles as quickly as possible in order to give hope to Emmy. “Doctors have already had to amputate his arm and, if nothing is done quickly, his life expectancy will be calculated in weeks”, underlined the independent MP in particular in his question.

Visibly touched by the Emmy case, Minister Jean-Yves Duclos invited Mr. Rayes to meet him and he also pledged to ensure that his department takes the necessary measures. Four days later, the case was settled. Emmy was able to obtain the drug in question after Health Canada admitted it under the Special Access Program.


PHOTO JEAN ROY, SPECIAL COLLABORATION

Emmy Pruneau and her father, Eric Pruneau

A few days later, Mr Rayes rose in the Commons to thank the minister. “Anything is possible when we work together and politics can be beautiful, effective and human,” he said. Thanks to all of you, the life of Emmy and her family, and, by extension, the life of all the other people who could go through the same situation in the future, has just taken another direction, that of hope. . »

In an interview, Mr. Rayes wonders if he could have asked this question if he was still a Conservative MP and if he would have had the same cooperation from the minister.

“With all the distrust and hostility that exists between the government and the Conservative Party, I have my doubts. But just this case, it gave a young woman more hope. And doctors have written to tell me that four more Canadians have had access to this drug in the past few weeks. It’s the first stone of something that will make a difference in people’s lives. »

On a mission

This case is one among others that Mr. Rayes was able to advance in the fall, as an independent MP.

Today, Mr. Rayes rejoices in the support he received from his constituents after his departure from the Conservative Party. And he salutes the Liberal ministers and MPs, the New Democratic Party, the Bloc Québécois and the Green Party who have offered to help him if necessary.

“It’s very satisfying to see that. And my fellow citizens tell me that they are happy. And that brings me back to the basics, which is why we get into politics. Basically, it is to serve our fellow citizens. »

As for his political future, Mr. Rayes says he intends to complete his mandate as an independent MP. And he will then decide if he will seek another mandate and if, if necessary, he will be an independent candidate or will carry the banner of another party.



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