(Quebec) Caquiste deputies from Quebec and Chaudière-Appalaches expect a mea culpa from their leader François Legault on Tuesday for having presented them with a fait accompli about the decline on the third highway link between the two shores.
The Prime Minister will meet in the morning with his elected officials from the region who were shocked by the decision to break this electoral promise that they had defended tooth and nail. They learned it last Monday late afternoon for some, Tuesday morning for others, only a few hours before the information became known to the public.
It was the Minister of Transport, Geneviève Guilbault, and Mr. Legault’s chief of staff, Martin Koskinen, who met with them to announce the decision. The mayors of Quebec and Lévis were informed before the deputies last Monday.
MPs from the region told La Presse that they expect Mr. Legault to make a mea culpa for not consulting them and involving them in decision-making, that the Prime Minister recognizes that things should have be done differently. They also conveyed their message during a meeting of the entire CAQ caucus last week.
The Prime Minister’s summons to a meeting on Tuesday morning is no stranger to this outing last week which caused internal turmoil, it is said without speaking of an unprecedented episode since taking power in 2018. .
In the Prime Minister’s Office, we try to moderate expectations. Mr. Legault’s intention is to “listen to his deputies” and “exchange” with them. There is “no announcement” on the program.
The abandonment of the third link is also making waves within the party. The members of the executive office of the local action committee of the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) in Beauce-Nord met Monday evening to discuss exclusively this government retreat.
They all finally decided to stay in the party. “For the government to break that promise is disappointing, that’s for sure. There is disappointment, yes, but we continue with our deputy Luc Provençal and with the current party. There is no resignation,” said committee chairman Frédéric Vallières, a longtime activist – he was head of the Beauce-Nord ADQ association when it merged with the CAQ in 2012. .
Mr. Vallières said the MP “has COVID right now” and that “we won’t see him physically in the next few days” for this reason.
Member of the executive committee of the CAQ committee of Beauce-Nord, former deputy Janvier Grondin affirmed that the abandonment of the third link “did not prevent [l] him from sleeping”.
Luc Provençal campaigned for a third highway link even before becoming a CAQ member in 2018. He previously did so as mayor of Beauceville and president of the Regional Table of Municipal Elected Officials of Chaudière-Appalaches. “Disappointed” with his party’s setback, he said last week that the decision represents “a loss for the region”. He believes voters “will question their support for the CAQ.”
At the beginning of 2022, Luc Provençal had begun to reflect on his political future. He confirmed that he had been courted by the Conservative Party of Quebec, but, after weighing the pros and cons, he had given up on changing parties. He was re-elected on October 3, just 202 votes ahead of his conservative opponent Olivier Dumais.
CAQ vice-president for eastern Quebec, Christiane Gamache, says the party should raise the subject of the third link at its May 13-14 convention in Sherbrooke. It’s a question of “transparency towards activists” as to the fate of a flagship promise, she told La Presse without being able to confirm at this stage that the subject would indeed be on the agenda of the day.
Christiane Gamache defended the third link project as a CAQ candidate in Jean-Lesage during the last two elections won by Québec solidaire in this riding of Québec. She says she is disappointed with the decision, but agrees with it.
Ms. Gamache will leave the vice-presidency of the CAQ at the convention after two terms. This retired teacher says she is “waiting” for a position in the office of the Minister of Education and Member of Parliament for Lévis, Bernard Drainville.
At the CAQ convention, François Legault will be subject to a vote of confidence. The statutes of the party provide in fact that there is one for the leader during the first convention following a general election. There were none after those of 2018 due to the pandemic. In 2014, François Legault scored 97.2%. The party’s history leaves little doubt as to the outcome of the vote in May.
This congress is above all an opportunity for training to put forward the theme of energy development. In the proposal book, the political commission asks activists to support the idea of ”advocating the construction of new hydroelectric power stations to achieve the electrification of Quebec”.
Panelists will also make a presentation on energy. A sequence is emerging on this theme in the government as it plans to appoint the new boss of Hydro-Québec between the end of May and mid-June.
The CAQ will also relaunch a demand against Ottawa in terms of immigration by demanding “full control by the Quebec government of the temporary foreign worker program”.
Accountability and breach of commitment
After taking the shock, Minister Martine Biron now expects the Legault government to “ride the elevator” for the citizens of the South Shore. “I expect Chutes-de-la-Chaudière and the Chaudière-Appalaches region to get their fair share of the pie and be compensated for the removal of the third highway link,” she explained. Ms. Biron is still shocked to have been presented with a fait accompli and informed of the government’s decision “to pull the plug” on the portion of the highway tunnel after the mayors of Quebec and Lévis.