Legault determined to freeze Hydro rates, but Liberals say lack of debate is undemocratic
Published Wednesday, December 4, 2019 5:18PM EST Last Updated Thursday, December 5, 2019 7:56PM EST
QUEBEC CITY -- François Legault is determined to pass legislation that would freeze hydro rates before the end of the year.
Earlier this week, Legault threatened to invoke closure, a measure which would end all debate and force a vote on the bill--which the CAQ majority would likely win.
Legault said he's determined to pass Bill 34 on electricity rates before the parliamentary session at the National Assembly ends this Friday.
But the Liberals accused his government of presenting a messy piece of legislation and restricting parliamentary debate over its adoption.
Interim Liberal leader Pierre Arcand on Thursday called it undemocratic.
"At one point there is a democracy here in Quebec; there is a parliament that exists; there are discussions and debates that must happen. I mean this is the way it works, I dont know how the government can pretend right now that's it's too long or too difficult [to debate the bill]," he said.
But Legault said the bill is moving too slowly. MNAs spent more than 100 hours studying only two of its articles, he said.
"So what is democratic?" He asked in response to Arcand's accusation. "2000 hours? How many hours to you need to express your arguments? Because they can vote against the bill."
According to the premier's calculations, MNAs have spent 43 per cent more time in parliamentary committees studying bills than they did under previous Liberal governments.
Bill 34 would return $500 million to Hydro-Québec customers, freeze electricity rates in 2020 and then tie them to inflation as early as 2021.
If passed, it will be the third piece of legislation this year passed by invoking closure. The other two are: Bill 9--which overhauled the immigration system, and Bill 21--which banned some public servants from wearing religious symbols.
With files from The Canadian Press.