The political week in review | The hills notebook

From Quebec to Ottawa, find out what caught the attention of our parliamentary correspondents this week.

Have a good week for Simon Jolin-Barrette

The Minister of Justice can breathe. It was he who had adopted the Law on State Secularism, and who is responsible for defending it today. His relations with the legal community have not always been easy, but they are improving. Last spring, he managed to reach an agreement with the former chief judge of the Court of Quebec. And now, the unanimous judgment of the Court of Appeal gives seriousness to its law on secularism. It thereby strengthens the nationalist wing of the CAQ, of which he is one of the most reactive representatives.

Paul Journet, The Press

Tough week for Geneviève Guilbault


Geneviève Guilbault

Two bad news for the Minister of Transport this week. Its project for an independent transport agency is slowed down. Behind the scenes there is a standoff with the Treasury Board, which refuses to lose control over major projects. And the government lacked seriousness by launching an online consultation without any scientific value on the third link – anyone can respond, and we are waiting to see if the system will detect people who respond more than once.

Paul Journet, The Press

Quote of the week


Brian Mulroney and Justin Trudeau at the Atlantic Economic Forum at St. Francis Xavier University in June 2023

It has marked our past, it still marks our present, and it will mark our future for a long time too.

Justin Trudeau greeted in these terms the death of former Progressive Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, who died Thursday at the age of 84

Number of the week

1.5 billion


Brands of oral contraceptive pills are notably included in the list of products that Ottawa intends to reimburse under the future national drug insurance program.

This is the bill associated with the program of universal access to contraceptive products and medications against diabetes, which the federal Minister of Health, Mark Holland, put forward by tabling a bill which allows the Liberals to keep the support of the New Democrats. “What we want is full financial compensation and without conditions,” warned his Quebec counterpart Christian Dubé.

Visa imposed on Mexicans: who is right?

Under intense pressure, the Trudeau government will once again impose a visa for Mexican nationals. A decision that François Legault quickly defined as a gain for his government against Ottawa. “This is yet another proof that the Parti Québécois is not right,” the Prime Minister was quick to say on Thursday. “The Parti Québécois told us: you will not succeed in convincing the federal government to reintroduce a visa so that there are fewer Mexicans who become asylum seekers,” said Mr. Legault. However, the PQ leader was not entirely wrong last week when he ventured to predict the future. “We see that the Prime Minister is preparing a certain announcement, I presume that it is the modification of certain visas, perhaps by the federal government (…). We see that the Prime Minister is putting together his victory speech,” said Paul St-Pierre Plamondon. Remember that the Parti Québécois is now ahead of the Coalition Avenir Québec in voting intentions…

Third link: a “popular” survey


In a questionnaire which will be available until March 22, Quebec asks citizens in particular if they are in favor of a structuring transport network or rather the construction of road axes.

Criticized by experts and opposition parties, the public consultation on the third link and the tramway in the Quebec region arouses passions. The government has already received more than 45,000 responses. This is “a record at the Ministry (of Transport)”, according to the office of Minister Geneviève Guilbault. And perhaps even for the site, he adds. In comparison, the traditional pre-budget survey of the Ministry of Finance, where citizens are asked to give their opinion on the main budgetary orientations of Quebec, only collected 2,200 responses. In both cases, a citizen can respond several times. Unusually, Geneviève Guilbault responded to her own online survey. And his colleague Éric Caire? “No, because I think everyone knows where I stand! », explained the minister. He had staked his seat on the creation of the third link and has already accused Mayor Bruno Marchand of waging war on cars. Was this consultation useful? CDPQ Infra, which must deliver a report to the government in June, learned of the launch of this consultation in the media…

Fitzgibbon does it again


The Minister of Economy and Energy, Pierre Fitzgibbon, surrounded by colleagues, answers questions from journalists at the National Assembly on February 21.

The Minister of the Economy and Energy, Pierre Fitzgibbon, cannot digest the work of journalists on the construction of the 7 billion mega-factory of Northvolt, a battery company. Last week he wrote in a letter published in The Press that “certain activists and certain equally militant journalists are much more vocal than the silent majority who support these projects.” He did it again this week by criticizing “a certain form of journalists, activist journalists”. “People who want to invent stories should write novels,” he said. Activists should publish essays and young people who are rigorous, curious and impartial, who want to cover political news, I encourage you to become journalists. » And to write his biography (authorized of course), while he’s at it?

From the SAAQclic fiasco to consumer protection


Denis Marsolais

This is further proof that you can have nine lives in public service. In April 2023, Quebec fired the CEO of the SAAQ, Denis Marsolais, due to the catastrophic launch of SAAQclic – a “fiasco”, recognized the Minister of Cybersecurity and Digital, Éric Caire, who was plunged into embarrassment . However, Mr. Marsolais was subsequently repatriated to the Ministry of Executive Council – the Prime Minister’s ministry. Then, this “state administrator” received a mandate from the Ministry of Justice to unclog the courthouses. And, surprise, on Wednesday, the Council of Ministers of the Legault government appointed him president of… the Consumer Protection Office. Let’s recognize that he has plenty of experience receiving complaints!

The usefulness of the Block


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