Warning: This text will offend some people. You may have made statements at Christmas dinner that will catch fire.
In major economic news for 2023, we remember the billions invested by Quebec and Ottawa in the battery sector. Our government at both levels has placed great emphasis on attracting major companies that will manufacture electric vehicle components in the future.
The largest and most exciting (in Quebec) is the Northvolt plant that will be built on the south shore of Montreal. Since the announcement, Northvolt's name has come up in discussion, often controversially.
The amounts invested are huge.
These investments carry undeniable risk. Like any investment.
This is all our money that our government invests on our behalf.
So there is debate and this is normal. You do not have to agree to these government decisions. We live in a free country and every person has the right to express his opinion…but he does not have the right to make statements that contradict all logic. In the case of investments in industrial policy, we hear things that are difficult to hear.
You have the right to oppose this government aid on the basis of economic philosophy. You're against state aid to businesses, period. This is the case of Eric Duheim. A coherent and assumed position.
But you have to understand the consequences. In a sector as crazy as electric cars, major factories will be established elsewhere. In the United States, Ontario, jurisdictions that provide government assistance. Arguably, a healthy, low-tax economy run by a right-wing government would then succeed in attracting companies from other sectors. But we have to accept what we lose.
We can also oppose these investments because we do not believe in the battery sector. If you've studied the future of vehicle energy and concluded that a battery electric car would be a flash in the pan, you'd be right to scream that we shouldn't be investing our savings in it.
You may be against this because you consider the risk too high relative to the return. Or because you think that an electric car will also be polluting in the long run, and that we should give up the car altogether.
But, please, you cannot say that you are opposed to the battery sector by arguing that this money should instead be put toward education, health, employee salaries, or other ongoing expenses. Conflating an investment aimed at future returns with current expenses is embarrassing. Yet we hear it regularly.
As if you're confusing amounts invested in an RRSP with rent and groceries.
We are investing in the battery sector to generate more money, to generate billions that will pay for health and education costs between 2030 and 2060.
We can believe it or not. Agree or Not. But we have to think again when we confuse investment with current expenditures.
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