New mining legislation being rushed through National Assembly
Published Monday, December 9, 2013 10:03AM EST
Last Updated Monday, December 9, 2013 7:45PM EST
Provincial politicians are spending an extra day in Quebec City to rush the passage of a bill on mining rights.
Bill 70 was introduced last Thursday by the provincial government, and the PQ and the CAQ have agreed to invoke closure to get the bill into force as soon as possible.
The bill will have a big impact on an important Quebec industry. This year, mining investments totaled $4.6 billion, a 10 per cent drop over year year. The PQ and CAQ voted Monday to impose closure, allowing the bill to be passed in one day.
Premier Pauline Marois said the Liberals have a lot of nerve asking for more time to study the bill after refusing earlier this year.
Businesses and environmental groups all agree with the bill, said PQ house leader Stéphane Bédard.
The Liberal part said it is also happy with the current legislation, even if Liberal house leader Moreau said the party is not happy with rushing the bill through in one day.
"The bill is exactly the bill we want to have so basically we were right. On the procedure we are right because it's impossible in the five-hour timeframe to discuss properly a bill with 127 articles and 50 amendments,” said Moreau.
This is the second mining bill the PQ has introduced this year -- the first one being voted by the opposition parties in the National Assembly.
But even through invoking closure, Monday's session in the National Assembly is expected to take 15 hours while opposition parties quickly scrutinize various aspects of the legislation.
CAQ deputy leader Francois Bonnardel said it's not elegant, especially since byelections are taking place in two ridings on Monday, but it will get the job done.
The second opposition also noted that the Liberal party already agreed in principle to many aspects of the bill.
"Today we have a deal for the future of Quebec. Unfortunately the Liberals decided by themselves not to work on that for the last 17 days. They have to pay a price for that," said CAQ house leader Gerard Deltell.
Bonnardel said the government negotiated fewer environmental impact studies known as BAPEs.
“We have a BAPE for every project that will be 2,000 tonnes and more. The PQ wants a BAPE for every project so it's a gain for the industry,” he said.
Aboriginal groups say if the impacts are devastating, they’ll need a veto – and that’s not in the proposed law.
“If not, the impacts are devastating, we of course need these tools,” said Chief Gilbert Dominique of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador.
As a side effect of the emergency passage of the bill, Liberal leader Philippe Couillard, who is running for election in Outremont, will not have any of his fellow Liberals with him in Montreal if he is, as expected, elected.
The Parti Quebecois denied that rushing the bill was a low blow, but Liberal critics say none of the bill's measures take place until 2014, and say there is no reason to rush the bill through in one day, and no reason to deny their leader his moment of celebration.
This is the fourth attempt by the National Assembly to make changes to the Mining Act.
The Liberal government tried to do so without success.