The hot potato represented by the issue of high speed internet connections in the regions is changing hands to the government. The Prime Minister’s ministry takes it over and withdraws it from the Minister of the Economy, Pierre Fitzgibbon.
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Nearly 340,000 households do not have high-speed internet access in Quebec, and the Coalition d’avenir Québec had promised in 2018 to solve the problem. However, it is already clear that this electoral promise will not be fulfilled.
On Wednesday morning, the file was withdrawn from Mr. Fitzgibbon and was entrusted to the member for Orford, Gilles Bélanger, who was appointed parliamentary assistant to François Legault. Mr. Bélanger will be supported by a new senior official, Stéphane Le Bouyonnec.
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Mr. Le Bouyonnec was member of the CAQ from 2012 to 2014 and president of the party from 2014 to 2018.
He had resigned in the middle of an election campaign, in August 2018, when The newspaper found that he was the head of a loan company with an interest rate of 90% and more.
At the Prime Minister’s office, we did not take offense on Wednesday.
“The issue of high speed internet coverage in all regions of Quebec is a high priority for our government. With his long track record in the field of telecommunications, Stéphane Le Bouyonnec has the ideal profile to meet this challenge within the government apparatus ”, declared Mr. Legault’s press secretary.
The Liberal Party is criticizing the appointment.
“It’s high-speed partisanship, he is given a job as well paid as that of the Prime Minister. It’s a pretty nice Christmas present, ”said MP Gaétan Barrette, in a telephone interview.
The job of Gilles Bélanger and Stéphane Le Bouyonnec will now be to bend Bell so that the company gives access to its poles to other high speed Internet providers in Quebec.
A team of 15 officials will help them. They were transferred from the Economy to the Ministry of the Executive Council on Wednesday, said the cabinet of François Legault.
Telecommunications companies, such as Videotron and Cogeco, have been complaining for some time about difficulties in accessing poles, necessary for the deployment of high-speed Internet in several regions.
In October, Prime Minister Legault defended himself for the delays observed in the file by pointing the finger at Bell. The company is slow to allow the use of its poles to competing companies, he said then.
The minister responsible for the file until Wednesday, Pierre Fitzgibbon, then created a “coordination table” which brings together Telus, Hydro-Quebec and Bell, the three owners of poles in Quebec.
The file has not progressed since. It remains to be seen whether the bar on Wednesday by the Prime Minister’s office will break the deadlock.
On Wednesday, the Council of Ministers also appointed Charles Sirois, co-founder of the CAQ, as a member of the board of directors of the École de technologie supérieure.
HIGH SPEED INTERNET IN QUEBEC
- CAQ election promise in 2018: 100% of Quebec households connected to high speed internet in 2022
- 340,000: number of Quebec households still without high speed internet today
- 100,000: expected number of households that will not have high-speed internet access in 2022
Who is Stéphane Le Bouyonnec?
Former Member of Parliament and former President of the Coalition d’avenir Québec (CAQ), Stéphane Le Bouyonnec is therefore back with François Legault.
He was the one who approached Mr. Legault in 2011 in order to merge the Action Démocratique du Québec (ADQ), of which he is the co-founder with Mario Dumont, and the brand new CAQ.
On Wednesday, Mr. Le Bouyonnec was appointed Associate Secretary General, High Speed Internet, Special Connectivity Projects at the Minister of the Executive Council. He takes office on Thursday.
Controversy in 2018
The businessman and ex-politician resigned from his post as president of the CAQ in August 2018, more than two months after the Newspaper revealed that he was the head of a loan company with exorbitant interest rates, 90% and more.
“I worked too long for this party to become a burden,” he said.
Techbanx operated legally in the rest of Canada, but not in Quebec, where interest rates had been capped at 35% a few months earlier in a new law backed by the CAQ.
Stéphane Le Bouyonnec has made a career of evaluating companies. A specialist in mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance, he is the founder of Synergis Capital.
The engineer by training has already had trouble with the Order of Engineers. He hasn’t practiced this profession since 2012, but in 2015, his LinkedIn profile still indicated that he was an engineer. The Court of Quebec then ordered him to pay a fine of $ 2,000, at the request of his former professional order.
Before his appointment by the Council of Ministers on Wednesday, he held a consultant position in private practice at Brain Financière.