One of the saddest parliamentary moments of 2020 occurred yesterday when Liberal Pierre Arcand questioned the Legault government on the 3rd link.
In COVID version, the Blue Room cannot receive more than 37 of the 125 elected officials. Also, no Minister of Transport (neither in title, François Bonnardel; nor delegate, Chantal Rouleau) was present.
It is poor Mathieu Lacombe, Minister of … Family, who was forced to attempt a semblance of a simulated answer to the first question.
This, however, addressed to the Prime Minister, was very simple: “why, after more than two years, his government is unable to quantify and specify its project”?
What followed was a good illustration of the dismay of the Legault cabinet in the face of its imprudent commitment to build a Quebec-Lévis tunnel. Remember that in 2018, the CAQ promised to start building the third link before the next elections in 2022.
Mr. Lacombe began by saying that it was a “structuring transport project” (a qualifier that obviously suits the Quebec tramway project, unloved by the CAQ).
Seeming distraught, he argued without (too much) laughing that if this type of question was asked, “it’s because it’s moving forward, it’s because it’s moving, it’s because it stirs and that, when it happens , It’s good news. It is because we are not sitting on our hands ”.
Mr. Lacombe is right, several things are moving in this project: first the route. And then, the timelines. As Pierre Arcand recalled, these are constantly postponed. In June – yet in the midst of COVID – Minister Bonnardel had promised to present the project for the fall.
The question is fundamental: how much will it cost? Defenders of the 3rd Link often hate the tram project, but at least an envelope has been secured.
The Quebec-Lévis tunnel is not one of the projects to be “accelerated” in Bill 66 adopted yesterday simply because it is not a project. Nothing is fixed: neither the route nor the integration with the tramway and, obviously, not the costs.
In this vagueness, it speculates madly. Last week, a Quebec City radio station argued that the government is considering rebuilding the Dufferin highway ramps to make an exit for the tunnel. Yes, those suspenders, useless, which led in the course until their demolition in 2006 at the cost of 400 million $.
This would obviously be a terrible contempt for the Saint-Roch district which is struggling to recover from the highway rampages of the 1960s.
Funny fact, it is Jonatan Julien, former opponent of the 3rd link when he was elected by Régis Labeaume, who answered Arcand’s additional question.
Which, too, was very simple. What will be the excuse of the CAQ in 2021 to push back the deadlines again?
Mr. Julien, Minister of Natural Resources, promised that his colleague Bonnardel will “quickly” be able to deliver all the “data”.
The question was about the apologies. Since March, the government had a golden opportunity to get rid of this crazy project, which could cost tens of billions of dollars: the pandemic. This is not yet over. Perhaps there is still time to invoke it to liquidate this embarrassing engagement?