Andre Boisclair affirmed his leadership of the Parti Quebecois yesterday, rejecting a motion calling for the nationalization of wind power.
Boisclair characterized the motion – adopted by a majority of delegates to a meeting of his party’s national council – as “expropriation” in his closing speech.
And then he delivered his answer to the takeover call:
At a news conference, he told reporters: “Frankness pays in politics. This is the kind of leadership Quebecers want.”
Government-owned Hydro-Quebec has a virtual monopoly on the distribution of electricity in the province, most of it produced by the utility’s own hydro dams. But a plan initiated by the PQ before it lost the 2003 election called for Hydro-Quebec to buy wind power from private producers.
Boisclair said private Quebec companies have the expertise and interest and could trade on their experience building wind farms in the province to win contracts across North America.
He added that Hydro-Quebec could bid on new wind projects along with private operators, but said that the public utility has neither interest nor expertise in developing wind power.
And he said local governments and aboriginal communities should be allowed to bid on new wind projects, as well.
“Hydro-Quebec will not be alone,” Boisclair said.
“That’s not what was voted,” said Marc Laviolette of Syndicalistes et progressistes pour un Quebec Libre, a left-wing political club within the PQ that argued for nationalization.
“There will be a debate on the election program,” Laviolette added, vowing to propose nationalization of wind power at future PQ meetings.
Yves Perron, who proposed the motion, said he was disappointed with Boisclair’s rejection but deferred to the leader’s decision.
“Mr. Boisclair is an excellent party leader,” he said. “He will be an excellent chief of state.”
Boisclair has been criticized by hard-line sovereignists over his reluctance to spell out in the coming election campaign why the PQ wants the province to become a country. That’s what the party program, adopted at the PQ’s June 2005 convention, says he must do.
“I won’t telescope a referendum campaign into an election campaign,” Boisclair said.
He mocked Premier Jean Charest’s claims that he has a special relationship with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Boisclair summed up the Charest-Harper relationship as as a series of photo opportunities of the two men drinking coffee while Charest’s ministers complain Ottawa is holding back money for health, education and the environment.
The weekend meeting dealt only with the environment.
Boisclair also distanced himself from a resolution proposing a congestion charge, modelled on the $17 levy on cars entering the city core of London, saying a PQ government could grant Montreal the power to assess a congestion charge but the decision is the city’s to make.
Delegates passed a resolution calling for improved transit between downtown Montreal and the city’s the northern crown, beyond Laval. The resolution also called for cancelling a proposed new bridge linking Autoroute 25 to the city.
Boisclair said he agrees there should be improved transit and served notice a PQ government would not build new highways. Instead, it would repair Quebec’s existing road network.
Boisclair does agree with a resolution calling for reducing Quebec’s oil consumption by 10 per cent in five years and by 20 per cent over 10 years.
He also talked about his own proposal to guarantee Quebecers clean air indoors and out, explaining that when he campaigned this summer in Pointe aux Trembles, his east-end Montreal riding, he noticed the poor air quality himself and was told by pharmacists in the riding, downwind from the city’s refinery sector, that they sell a lot of inhalers for children and adults afflicted by asthma.
Kevin Dougherty, The Gazette
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding