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Northvolt: Blame CAQ monocultures, not ecologists

Northvolt: Blame CAQ monocultures, not ecologists

François Legault and Pierre Fitzgibbon consider themselves business tycoons, above their affairs. Their disregard for legitimate, public concerns about the environment poisons Northvolt's portfolio, which is an interesting project nonetheless.

Minister Benoit Charette went before the media this week to admit what everyone knows: the CAQ has rolled the dice to prevent the battery factory project from going ahead with BAPE, for fear of seeing the company choose to set up elsewhere.

The Northvolt plant is not burdened by “hardcore environmentalists” or journalists. It was Mononque Legault and Fitzgibbon who tried to deceive the population and were responsible for creating a climate of mistrust and suspicion.

Legault and his Prime Minister Fitzgibbon believe that “big business” is too complicated for everyone. The rules of the game are only for losers! It's better to hold press conferences with oranges and apples to make fun of people. Why wouldn't he do that anyway, given their banana republic-worthy behavior?

Respect our institutions

For 45 years, here in Quebec we have had a unique institution. Our Environmental Quality Act created an organization to listen to residents and advise the government, BAPE (Bureau d'audiences publique sur l'environnement).

BAPE does not decide. Above all, he gives opinions, valuable opinions to guide the government, but – and this is the key to his credibility and success – he does so after giving the public the opportunity to express themselves.

Yes, there is a lot of experience and expertise among BAPE members, but it is its “basement of the institutional church” character that allows us to take the pulse of the population while informing them.

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These days we hear about social license as if it were an idea designed to go around in circles. This is a mistake.

Social acceptance is an essential element for the success of any major project. The public does not want to be banned, but rather wants to know. If we lie to them, as Legault and Fitzgibbon lied, the public will rightly turn against them.

Once social acceptance is lost, it becomes very difficult to regain it. Legault and Fitzgibbon never understood that.

Playing with fire

Since the Third Link debacle, one might have thought that QC would have learned its lesson: you lie to the public at your own peril. In politics, when no one believes you, you're cooked! Here the carrots are cooked.

If Legault had simply said that we had to speed up the BAPE process at the risk of losing any chance of getting the project, I think most people would have understood that.

Instead, we wasted four months filling the positions of Legault and Fitzgibbon.

What a lose!