CAQ infrastructure stimulus bill passes, minus Mercier Bridge project
MONTREAL -- An economic stimulus bill that the CAQ government tried and failed to pass at the end of the spring legislative session was finally passed into law on Thursday, in an altered form.
The form wasn't altered enough, however, said the Parti Québécois, which again voted against the bill, along with Québec Solidaire.
Bill 66, as the second version was called -- the spring version was Bill 61 -- listed 181 infrastructure projects across Quebec that would receive fast-tracked spending meant to help the province recover from the pandemic's economic hit.
One project was removed: improvements to the Mercier Bridge, which connects LaSalle in Montreal with Kahnawake. Treasury Board president and MNA Sonia LeBel told media on Thursday that this was done at Kahnawake's request.
The opposition parties had originally opposed the bill on several grounds, including that it was pushed through the legislative process too quickly, and also that the work it proposed would be done too quickly and that it would bypass some of the normal environmental and anti-corruption measures.
Premier François Legault argued at the time that speed was the point, and that the projects needed to be done quickly.
On Thursday, PQ MNA Sylvain Gaudreault, speaking for his party, said in a release that the PQ still opposed the bill on environmental grounds, though he said they'd made significant gains in pushing the governing party to restore safeguards.
He said the vote against the bill really came down to the money it included for two English-language institutions, another point of contention in the spring.
“The expansion plans for Dawson College and McGill University -- two English-speaking higher education institutions -- have retained their priority; therefore the bill did not win our support," Gaudreault said.
"The Parti Québécois will always oppose the planned anglicization of Quebec."
--With files from Kelly Greig