(Quebec) Quebec could take on more debt to accelerate the energy transition, the official opposition to the Legault government suggested on Wednesday.
The Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ) would like the CAQ government to do like the government of Justin Trudeau in its budget tabled on Tuesday, but its position was nuanced later in the day.
Federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced $80 billion over 10 years for all provinces to accelerate the transition to a hydrocarbon-free economy.
In a press scrum on Wednesday morning, the PLQ’s spokesperson for the economy, Frédéric Beauchemin, first saw in this plan a “threat” to Quebec’s “strategic advantage” in renewable energies, since the other provinces will also be able to compete with it.
“The 80 billion will go towards the most structuring projects for the whole economy,” he said.
He also urged the caquistes to recover the share of the 80 billion that would return to Quebec, or about 20 billion according to his estimate.
But above all, he pleaded for an increase in Quebec’s debt, that is to say that the Legault government borrows more to invest more massively in the energy transition, and thus get out of fossil fuels more quickly.
As of March 31, Quebec’s debt should amount to $206.8 billion, or 37.4% of gross domestic product (GDP).
“I sincerely believe that if we have a temporary increase in our debt-to-GDP ratio to be able to seek an accelerated green transition, that’s a decision that would probably be the right one, as a father, given the whole benefits that come with accelerating the green transition. »
The spokesperson for the parliamentary wing of the PLQ, Catherine Dostie, held at the end of the day on Wednesday to qualify the position of the Liberal MP.
In a phone interview, she said that Quebec “can go into debt” and not “should go into debt” more.
“It’s a decision that could be made,” she suggested, adding that “it’s not a request” from the Liberal opposition.
The target of reducing the net debt to 30% of GDP was postponed from 10 to 15 years, in 2037-2038, by the Minister of Finance, Eric Girard, in his budget tabled last week.
The 2022-2023 budget deficit after payment to the Generations Fund will amount to nearly 4.6 billion.
In 2023-2024, it should be 4 billion. It will then be reduced by $1 billion per year until a balanced budget is achieved in 2027-2028.