Quebec municipalities don't dig PQ's new mining bill
Published Wednesday, May 29, 2013 9:07PM EDT
QUEBEC CITY - The minority Parti Quebecois government is under fire for its new mining policy but not from its customary opponents.
The Liberal and CAQ opposition parties have both pledged support for Bill 43, which will rewrite the regulations on the $14.2 billion annual mineral extraction industry, which employs 44,000 workers in the province.
“We have no intention of playing the saboteurs. We'll act with responsibility so that our economy can grow,” said Liberal House Leader Jean-Marc Fournier.
The CAQ leader echoed that impatience for a new mining law.
“We've lost billions of dollars in the last eight months because of the uncertainty, so we really need to do something now,” said CAQ leader Francois Legault.
However Quebec municipalities are expressing frustration with news that mining companies will still have the upper hand in Quebec’s newest blueprint for mineral extraction in the province.
The newest tweaks in the mining plan – Quebec’s third such blueprint in the last four years – failed to repeal a provision that Quebec’s towns feel limits their power.
Minister of Natural Resources Martine Ouellet expressed the hope that Bill 43 would please all parties but the Union of Quebec Municipalities (UMQ) and the Quebec Solidaire party argued that section 246 will allow mining companies to steamroll over objections of municipalities.
Ouellet attempted to assuage fears that the province will use its power to side with the miners.
“It will not be a discretionary power,” she said. “It is a power that will be framed within the government guidelines. These guidelines are then developed in consultation with stakeholders and will be voted on by cabinet.”
Erik Forest of the UMQ said the government is creating a dangerous precedent by allowing the minister of natural resources to intervene in dossiers that should be under the control of municipal affairs ministry.