(Quebec) The Prime Minister does not know the estimated cost of the new public transport tunnel project which he is now making a commitment. François Legault admitted on Wednesday that he had not seen the unredacted version of the studies that reveal him.
The Prime Minister made this astonishing revelation while being hounded by the parliamentary leader of Québec solidaire during the study of budgetary appropriations. Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois asked him if he had had access to the unredacted version of a study on the third link, in which was a summary estimate of the project cost of four options evaluated by the Legault government.
In addition, Mr. Legault said he did not know that the study looked at four scenarios, including that of a tunnel dedicated 100% to public transport.
François Legault said he saw a “short version” of the study that did not contain costs. “I got the summary from the Minister of Transport. […] I could have had access, but I did not consult the long version and even less the redacted version,” he explained on Wednesday.
“I didn’t see [the numbers], it was in the long version that I didn’t see,” Mr. Legault added.
However, it is now making the construction of a third link entirely dedicated to public transit a formal commitment. “There will be a third transit link,” he said Wednesday. He answered in the affirmative to the interim leader of the Liberal Party of Quebec, Marc Tanguay, when the latter asked him if he was now making a commitment “as firm” as that of the highway tunnel.
In this sense, François Legault refuses to admit that his government broke an electoral promise by completely dropping the motorway tunnel in its third link project. “I do not consider this a broken promise,” said the Prime Minister, explaining that he is maintaining his commitment to build a third link between Quebec and Lévis.
The Prime Minister refuses for the time being to commit to making public the data redacted in the study. “I don’t want to start a public debate with numbers that aren’t validated,” he replied. He then mentioned reasons related to the upcoming calls for tenders.
A study carried out by the Union des rives consortium, mandated by the Ministry of Transport, makes a summary estimate of the project cost of the four options evaluated by the Legault government. The transport minister’s office explained last week that “costing information has been redacted so as not to influence any future tender processes.”
It should be noted that it is customary to present an estimate of the cost of a project when it is announced.