(Quebec) Premier François Legault justifies the abandonment of his electoral promise of a third highway link between Quebec and Lévis by saying that “the situation has changed a lot” since the elections last fall.

“It’s a difficult decision, but you have to understand that the situation has changed a lot,” he pleaded during a brief scrum on Wednesday, just before question period in the Blue Room.

“You’ll see it in the data [Thursday], the impacts of working from home are huge. We thought it would go back to how it was before the pandemic […], but we can see that there are significant changes in habits, especially during rush hour. Really, there has been a significant change, and you have to adapt to the evolution of this change. The ridership forecasts for the coming years point in the same direction, he hinted.

The Prime Minister confirmed that the government now advocates the construction of a tunnel reserved for public transit.

For her part, the Minister of Transport, Geneviève Guilbault, explained that the government made the “very difficult” decision to give up the motorway tunnel out of pragmatism. The opposition parties have declared victory, but question the value of the word of François Legault.

“I’ll save my answers and project details for an announcement [Thursday], but I just want to say that we had to make a very difficult decision in the third link, but which we believe is a decision responsible and that we are first and foremost a pragmatic government,” Ms. Guilbault said Wednesday upon her arrival at the National Assembly.

She will present a new public transit project on Thursday, at the same time as studies on ridership showing a drop in traffic on the two Quebec-Lévis bridges after the pandemic and due to the rise of telework.

Beauce-Nord MP Luc Provençal made no secret of his disappointment on Wednesday. “When I was president of the Chaudière-Appalaches elected officials, I worked to support the third link, so for sure personally, I am disappointed,” he said. He maintained that the mayors of the South Shore have already expressed their dissatisfaction to him.

Will it be possible to convince them that this new version is the right one? “We’ll see,” said Mr. Provençal, who will meet the mayors of the 21 municipalities in his riding.

Minister Martine Biron, elected in Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, also admitted that she heard the disappointment of her constituents. “Of course, of course,” she said briefly, pointing out that “there are still threads to tie” to the new project.

The Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) is thus abandoning an important electoral promise. Bernard Drainville said the wait had become “hellish” on both decks. The minister and MP for Lévis dodged questions from journalists on Wednesday. Ditto for Éric Caire who said he was ready to resign if the government backs down on its commitment. He maintained that he intends to fight to the “last drop of blood” for the Third Bond to materialize. Martine Biron said that “anyone who lives in Quebec knows that it takes a third link”. Despite the absence of studies to support his tunnel project, François Legault said that it was “obvious” that a third link was necessary given the development of the two cities and the traffic in the region.

Few CAQ MPs wanted to comment on the decision. According to Mario Asselin (Vanier-Les Rivières), “there is a lot of emulation on this, but the citizens react well” to the decision. Samuel Poulin (Beauce-Sud) was content to say that he sees the change “with a good eye”. Her colleague Kariane Bourassa (Charlevoix–Côte-de-Beaupré) said she cannot comment because she “doesn’t have all the details yet.” The Minister of Economy and Energy, Pierre Fitzgibbon, refrained from commenting on the pretext that this file is “very emotional”.

The Liberal Party, Québec solidaire and the PQ all advocated a public transit project to link the cities of Québec and Lévis. They therefore claim victory on this point, but they nevertheless criticize the decline of the CAQ.

“During the election campaign, François Legault made it a key position. He rolled everyone in flour, François Legault. He’s been fooling everyone for five years, he’s been in government for five years,” said interim Liberal leader Marc Tanguay.

“He has no voice. He did not keep his word. And Eric Caire was saying it, just finishing on that, Eric Caire was saying it, he said, “I’m going to fight to the last drop of my blood.” “He said that no later than 2022, to realize it. He has to swallow it up, in the morning, there, ”he added.

The parliamentary leader of Quebec solidaire Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois believes that this is the victory of “common sense and science” against “the stubbornness of the CAQ”.

“Beyond inflation, even beyond the pandemic, which has undoubtedly accelerated the transition to teleworking in Quebec, the fundamental question remains. In the midst of a climate crisis, adding motorway lanes to decongest a city makes no sense. That’s not what science tells us to do, that’s not what the region needs, that’s not what common sense teaches us is the best solution,” he said. he says.

He claims to have a “favourable bias” towards public transit, but will wait for the details of the project before supporting it or not.

For his part, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon is also in favor of public transit to unite the two cities. But he has “great difficulty believing” that François Legault believed what he said on the campaign trail.