The new Quebec government: environment and sustainable development priorities

With newly elected Quebec Liberal Premier today taking the reins of power with a majority government, GallonDaily thought it would be useful to review the Premier’s election promises in the area of environment and sustainable development. The Quebec Liberal Party did not publish a platform document in this election; the following election commitments are drawn from documents published on the Party’s website at http://www.plq.org/en/commitments. The commitments, in no particular order, are:

• reestablishing Quebec as a leader in the fight against GHGs, steering our economy toward clean energy and technology and making an Action Plan on Climate Change the centerpiece of our strategic approach to climate change.
• deploying the first Maritime Strategy in our history, developing intermodal transportation and coastal traffic and breathing new life into Quebec’s shipyards, with the combined goal of fostering economic growth and the reduction of the hydrocarbon emissions related to the transport of goods and people.
• seizing all opportunities arising from the development of maritime and environmental technologies.
• transporting merchandise in a safer and more ecological manner.
• assuring the sustainability of fisheries and aquaculture and working with the fishing industry towards new product development with a view to expanding exports to new markets.
• sharing royalties from the exploitation of mining, oil and gas resources with local and regional communities, including indigenous communities, so that all may share directly in the development of our natural resources.
• rapidly dealing with the problems of air quality in schools.
• providing immediate assistance to companies to get their innovative projects off the ground through an Investissement Québec-administered Créativité Québec (CQ) program. CQ, which will have a budget of $150 million, will provide direct subsidies, loans and investments to kick-start in any innovative project requiring at least $2 million, including the acquisition of new technology, production process upgrades and the development of new products.
• re-launching sustainable northern development with the re-launch of Plan Nord+
• encouraging the supply of natural gas north of the 49th parallel toward Sept-Iles to serve the North Shore, the last heavily industrial region still without this energy source.
• promoting an agreement of co-investment among businesses for the opening up of the “Labrador ditch” which would advance a rail connection linking the iron ore deposits with the port of Sept-Iles.
• re-launching the coastal trade project on the North Shore, in collaboration with St. Lawrence ship owners.
• launching a promotional campaign including the establishment of an international mining economics mission so to attract foreign investment and reassure the mining sector.
• appointing of a Minister for Forests, Wildlife and Parks to improve the productivity and competitiveness of Quebec forestry; promoting innovation; and developing forestry manpower.
• investing $225 million a year over five years in silvicultural projects, of which $170 million will be in non-commercial work.
• establishing financial support for the maintenance and development of multi-user forest roads to assure safe access for all users of the forests.
• improving the new forestry regime by reviewing all regulations relating to planning of works and the functioning of the Bureau de mise en marché des bois.
• reinforcing the links between the education milieu, universities and Cegeps, to develop programs in engineering and architecture that would promote the use of structural lumber.
• revisiting the practices of the Chief Forester so that there is more transparency and information when assessing forestry possibilities.
• assisting the industry and forest co-operatives in the renewal of forestry equipment, with loan guarantees.
• assuring stable financing for the private forestry industry.
• re-affirming the concept of local forests.
• continuing to support the promotion of the forest biomass.
• supporting the industry in the marketing of innovative products from the processing of wood as architectural elements and products derived from cellulose.
• establishing a refundable tax credit of up to 20% (to a maximum of $2,500) for work done to support families who seek to renovate their homes. To be eligible, all work must have been completed by December 31, 2016 and the minimum value of the work must be at least $3,000. The current green tax credit will be maintained until that program ends October 31, 2014 and following that all renovations aimed at increasing energy efficiency will be eligible for the new tax credit.
• supporting the development of the cruise business, as much in the matter of improved facilities for visitors, as port infrastructures. This strategy will also lead to more orders for shipyards.
• taking inspiration from the German model of trade schools to better integrate internships in companies into professional and technical training programs. In Germany, professional training is very highly regarded. Some 60% of under 20s head for a system described as “dual.” This system prescribes three years of training, two-thirds of which are spent in a company setting. This approach therefore relies on a partnership and division of costs between the State and the company.
• making buying locally easier, establishing a code of conduct calling for public institutions to purchase local food, strengthening Quebec’s strategic food positioning plan.
• helping Quebec cheesemakers penetrate new markets. It will demand reciprocity in terms of packaging design and food safety standards for imported cheese in connection with the Canada Europe Trade Agreement and will support Quebec cheesemakers in negotiations with the federal government for transitional compensation measures.
• making the development of a green economy a real social project and committing to maintaining, in this sense, a carbon market
• earmarking 10% of Quebec’s marine territory as protected marine areas by 2015.

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