Thursday, October 28

The Saguenay between relief and disappointment

Few people were surprised in Saguenay by the Legault government’s decision to put an end to the LNG Quebec project, even if some still had the hope that it would finally see the light of day.

“It is certain that with the result of the events of the last weeks, one could expect this kind of decision there”, reacted the mayoress of this city, Josée Néron. Experts from the federal Department of the Environment recently concluded that the plan to export liquefied natural gas could harm Canada’s climate goals. This analysis was in addition to similar conclusions issued in March by the Office of Public Hearings on the Environment (BAPE).

By turning its back on GNL Quebec, the Legault government is depriving the Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean region of thousands of temporary jobs during the construction phase and of 300 jobs in the long term.

“The decision is disappointing for us, for the citizens of Saguenay,” admitted Mr.me Nero. This was a project that would have allowed the creation of several jobs, which would have had significant economic benefits for the city, but also for all of Quebec. “

The decision was difficult to announce for the Minister responsible for the Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean region, Andrée Laforest, even if the decision was unanimously endorsed by the Council of Ministers shortly before the press conference. Wednesday.

“It is certain that the projects, we want them as much as possible in respect of the environment, so I understand very, very, very well the decision”, she admitted.

The Minister and her colleague for the Environment, Benoit Charette, chose to announce the news at a press conference in Saguenay instead of simply issuing a press release. “It’s out of respect for the region, quite simply,” replied Mr. Charette when The duty asked him why. We know that support in the region was, after all, important. I am not saying that the project was unanimous, but several supported it. “

“Good jobs”

In the street, the announcement aroused relief and disappointment. “It disappoints me a little because these are good jobs for the region,” said Simon Thivierge, a worker I met in the parking lot of a hardware store.

“I would have liked that my region had an important project because it’s been a very long time,” noted Jacinthe Couture, retired professor of the Conservatoire de musique du Saguenay. We’re going downhill, people are leaving and it’s nice to have dynamism. “

“I try to trust my government which has done the studies and if it has been done correctly, I think that is what must be done because we see the forest fires that there are. currently… ”, she added.

“For the environment, I find that it no longer has its place, decided the retiree Louis Morissette. Fossil fuels, I think we have to move on. “

Ministers Laforest and Charette have repeatedly mentioned Alcoa and Rio Tinto’s Élysis project to produce carbon-free aluminum. However, the initiative would not lead to the creation of additional jobs and could even eliminate them. Minister Charette also mentioned a future announcement for the transfer of jobs of civil servants of the Government of Quebec in the region as promised by the Quebec Future Coalition (CAQ) during the 2018 election campaign.

For the environment, I find that it no longer has its place. Fossil fuels, I think we have to move on.

” Empty-handed “

“The government will be in debt to the region,” said Promotion Saguenay President and CEO Patrick Bérubé. We have other projects that will emerge and we will need the Government of Quebec to be there if they want to ensure an economic transition in Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean. “

All three opposition parties hailed the government’s decision while criticizing the fact that it had little to offer to develop the region’s economy.

“Where I have a reproach [faire à] Benoit Charette is that he arrived empty-handed, criticized the member for Jonquière, Sylvain Gaudreault, who had been opposed to the LNG Quebec project since 2019. I am the first to talk about Elysis and green aluminum , but I wish he had come up with a just transition plan. “

The elected PQ proposes to draw up to $ 1 billion annually from the Generations Fund to ensure that workers can find their place in a new green economy.

“Today, the CAQ of Francois Legault simply made the only decision that was necessary and it was time for it to be taken, the Member of Parliament for Solidarity Quebec, Ruba Ghazal. We wasted a lot of time with a polluting project like GNL Québec instead of offering the citizens of Saguenay green and fair economic development projects. “

The Liberals called on the government to be transparent and to make known all the criteria it assessed before making its decision.

“I want to know what are the criteria of this government vis-a-vis projects which are more or less green, raised the member Isabelle Melançon. That is my first concern and I have another concern, of course, for the Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean region because these people, we are announcing to them today that the project will not see the light of day. day, but other proposals must be made quickly. “

Only Éric Duhaime’s Conservative Party came out in favor of the construction of the LNG Quebec plant and marine terminal. “The Montreal lobbies have won. The workers of Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean have lost, ”he denounced in a press release.

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