(Quebec) The elected Caquistes had to make an act of contrition to the voters of the Capitale-Nationale and Chaudière-Appalaches after having broken their flagship commitment to build a third highway link between Quebec and Lévis. In tears, Bernard Drainville apologized while Éric Caire chose to stay on.
“It’s a very emotional subject,” Minister Bernard Drainville said while appearing before the media on Thursday.
In tears, the member for Lévis had to stop before resuming. “I first want to apologize to the people of Lévis and the people of Chaudière-Appalaches. I have made a commitment and I am unable to deliver,” the Minister added.
In turn, the elected caquistes of the Capitale-Nationale and Chaudière-Appalaches made an act of contrition Thursday. The day before, most had reserved their comments for after the presentation of the Minister of Transport, Geneviève Guilbault. She confirmed Thursday that her government was abandoning its highway tunnel between Quebec and Lévis to build a link dedicated solely to public transit.
The Minister of Education claimed to have made a “sincere” commitment and that at no time during the election campaign did he have any indication that the project would be changed. The latest version of the third link was presented to him on Monday, he said.
What he had known for the past few weeks, however, was that the costs of the project had skyrocketed. Studies on teleworking have sealed the fate of the motorway tunnel. Bernard Drainville maintains that traffic was “sick” last summer.
“It was appalling, and I sincerely believed that the traffic we were seeing this summer was the new reality of traffic in Quebec. I realized after the fact that obviously a good part of this traffic was related to the work last summer [on the Pierre-Laporte bridge], ”said Mr. Drainville.
Despite this about-face, he continues to believe “that one day” there will be a new highway link between the two shores. He says he is “comfortable” with the fact that the project remains downtown to downtown and that it will “raise several billions from the federal government”.
Minister Éric Caire said in 2017: “If there is a decline in the CAQ, I resign”.
However, he remains in office, and will instead go to meet his constituents to sell them the new public transport tunnel project. What is his word worth today? “You’re talking about 2018. Voters have renewed their trust in me ever since. What is my word worth? I will let my constituents decide what happens next. I think the decision to be made is the project we are presenting to Quebecers,” he said.
“The costs of the project have changed significantly, but in my soul and conscience, today, the math means that I cannot defend this project,” he added.
Minister Martine Biron, first elected in Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, spoke Thursday of “a brutal shock” for her colleagues and citizens of the South Shore. “When I ran for politics, I knew I would have some days that were a little bit more difficult than others. I didn’t expect it to come so quickly, to be so brutal,” she said in a scrum.
Ms. Biron even said she was “hurt” after campaigning on the Third Link in her riding. “I defended it tooth and nail [that project]. I’m hurt, but I’m looking at the numbers too,” she said.
The member for Bellechasse, Stéphanie Lachance, did not defend the version of the third link presented Thursday. “For Bellechasse, it’s not a winning formula. Bellechasse, as you know, is a very large territory which is served by the automobile. Bellechasse is 35,000 citizens traveling by car,” she lamented.