At the time, the James Bay Hydroelectric Complex was one of the finest gems of Quebec engineering. Even politically, he was successful with the signing of the first treaty of modern times with an indigenous nation.
All of Quebec was proud of that, and rightly so. We cannot underestimate the impact of this success on Robert Powers’ return to power in 1985.
What is the development of Baie-James procédait d’un modèle de veloppement économique bien précis: 1) utiliser this électricité à bas prix pour attirer des industries energivores et creer ainsi de bons emplois bien payés et 2) exporter les surplus de ette energie propre in the United States of America.
She was a supermodel in the ’70s, but 1970 was half a century ago.
Today, Sophie Brochuaux’s resignation as President and CEO of Hydro-Québec is an indication for us to understand that the vision of economic development for the Legault government remains the same as in the 1970s and that of James Bay.
The problem is that in the current half century, the world has changed a lot. In the 1970s, unemployment was the number one problem. It was hard to think that Quebec would be practically at full employment and that the main problem would be a shortage of labour. Nor can one imagine that the United States often dismisses our clean energy because of the “not in my backyard” syndrome affecting transmission towers and lines.
But above all, we are no longer in the development phase at any cost. Instead, we are talking about sustainable development, which is not compatible with diverting rivers and creating huge reservoirs. In short, James Bay, we are glad to have it, but if we had to do it all over again today, it is not at all certain that we would do the same.
In Quebec business circles, fundamental differences are rarely revealed in public. Quebec is small and the future is long in coming, so it’s best to be careful. But since the government is also Hydro’s sole shareholder, we know who will ultimately enforce its vision.
This explains why, both in government and on the part of M.I Brochu, it was said that there were no “differences of direction” between the government and the CEO of Hydro.
But by doing, in the process, painting a picture of the person who could succeed M.I Brochu, Mr. Legault found himself confirming these differences in orientation.
It would take someone who is in “development mode since we need to increase Hydro-Québec’s capacity by 50%.” They are all coming from a prime minister who, in the midst of an election campaign, had already ordered the construction of new dams.
A 50% increase by 2050 to achieve carbon neutrality is part of Hydro-Québec’s Strategic Plan published last spring. But it does not indicate anywhere that it is necessary to think about building new dams right now.
However, what the strategic plan emphasizes is that we must better consume electrical energy, by increasing energy efficiency in buildings, for example. The most profitable megawatt is the one that we do not consume.
But, this week, you will never hear Mr. Legault talk about energy savings, or about what he would do, namely, to amend the Building Code to make those savings possible. Nor is he talking about developing wind energy. Nor to make existing plants more productive. All things in Hydro Strategic Plan.
It is very clear that Prime Minister Legault, like Energy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon, and CEO of Hydro, are not on the same wavelength.
As recently as Thursday, Mr. Fitzgibbon said he “is in favor of launching megawatts for any company that creates wealth for Quebec City.” As we can see, the Minister was never too far away from the “energy dollarama” that the lady said.I Last Fall Handbook.
In fact, we are exactly what she feared, which was to only attract energy-intensive companies like aluminum smelters and then have to build dams to supply them. Which is the opposite of what M wanted.I Published. In fact, it is also the opposite of sustainable development.
It has been said since he came to power that the Legault government’s blind spot is the environmental issue. We can now say that his vision of economic development does not take this into account either.
Monsieur Legault often repeats that he is obsessed with making money. But the means of creating this wealth are not what they were 50 years ago.
Except that, when the CAQ government rode the economic development train, MM. Legault and Fitzgibbon disembarked at “Baie-James” station. And they are still there…
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