Montreal, April 27 2023 - 32 environmental, social, citizen and union groups are denouncing the gap between the Premier's commitment to hold a "real societal debate" on Quebec’s energy future, and the actual format of the consultation announced on April 26 by the Minister of the Economy, Innovation and Energy, Pierre Fitzgibbon.
"The consultation proposed by Minister Fitzgibbon is essentially about energy production and not about Quebec's energy future as a whole. It is not designed to foster a social dialogue on the important issues around the energy transition, notably energy consumption and the ecological impacts of projects. There’s a lack of independence and transparency. These are important societal choices that we have to make, and the government is taking them too lightly," the groups say.
The groups note that the government has ignored the voices that have been crying out from all sides in recent months calling for a “generic" public consultation by the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement (BAPE), or some other form of broad, independent consultation on Quebec's energy future. "This is a province-wide issue, because the potential projects could have irreversible impacts in all regions. It is essential that the choices that are made have a high level of social acceptability and not trigger a new series of outcries, as has been the case with several energy and mining projects," explain the groups.
The groups deplore the format of the consultation. Far from respecting its commitment to hold a societal debate, the Legault government is proposing to the people of Quebec a restricted and opaque exercise in reflection, offering civil society only an online platform as a space for expression and exchange, and this during the summer period, from June 1 to August 1, 2023. For the rest, the process includes only one day of workshops, in May 2023, reserved for specialists in the energy sector, as well as consultations with representatives of Indigenous communities. As for the bill that will be tabled in the fall, it will be subject to specific consultations, which will not be open to everyone.
According to studies by Hydro-Québec and Dunsky Energy + Climate Advisors, on which the government bases its projections, Quebec will need to produce an additional 100 to 137 TWh of electricity by 2050 to electrify most of our vehicles, buildings and industries, in addition to the new projects in Minister Fitzgibbon's portfolio. This means that we would need to build an additional half Hydro-Québec in the next few years, as François Legault likes to repeat, or even increase capacity by 65% if we want to accommodate new projects.
"At what ecological, human and economic cost? Will the population accept a boom in hydroelectric, wind, mining and other developments? Are there better options? Is it really legislation that Quebec needs at this time and is it not premature to think about amending the Hydro-Québec Act and the Act respecting the Régie de l'énergie, when we have not even tried to come up with a common vision that would guide all future legislation?" the groups ask.
In order to answer these questions and many others, they believe that the debate on how to decarbonize Quebec must truly engage all stakeholders, including citizens from all regions, specialists, scientists, labour organizations, Indigenous Peoples, as well as the most vulnerable groups, particularly those in a situation of energy insecurity. All must not only have the opportunity to be heard, but also to dialogue with each other and with the government so that promising visions that are as consensual as possible can emerge.
Regroupement des organismes environnementaux en énergie
Front commun pour la transition énergétique
Mobilisation environnement Ahuntsic Cartierville (MEAC)
David Suzuki Foundation
NON à une marée noire dans le Saint-Laurent
Coalition Québec meilleure mine
Fédération des travailleurs et des travailleuses du Québec (FTQ)
Regroupement vigilance hydrocarbures Québec
Prospérité Sans Pétrole
Réseau québécois des groupes écologistes
Action environnement Basses-Laurentides, Normand Beaudet, energy spokesperson
Alliance du personnel professionnel et technique de la santé et des services sociaux (APTS), Émilie Charbonneau, 2nd Vice President
Fondation Coule pas chez nous, Jean Paradis, administrator
Coalition climat Montréal, Jean-François Boisvert, President
Transition Capitale-Nationale, Lucie Bergeron, member
Mouvement écocitoyen UNEplanète, Carole Dupuis, spokesperson
Syndicat de la fonction publique et parapublique du Québec (SFPQ), Karine Dextras-Paquette, Vice President
Réseau action climat Canada, Leïla Cantave, responsible for Quebec
Eric Pineault, Professor and Chair of the Scientific Committee of the Institute of Environmental Sciences, UQAM
Syndicat de la fonction publique (SCFP-Québec), Dominic Champagne, VP Energy sector
Les Amis de la Chicot de Saint-Cuthbert, Danielle Demers, President
Transition écologique La Pêche, Yolande Henry, founding member
Polémos décroissance, Philippe Gauthier, member of the scientific committee
Solidarité environnement Sutton, Sylvie Berthiaume, Vice President
Conseil central du Montréal métropolitain - CSN, Dominique Daigneault, President
Coalition Sortons le gaz!, Marie-Noëlle Foschini, coordinator
Mères au front, Gabrielle Spenard-Bernier, coordinator