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Quebec Liberals accuse CAQ of playing favourites when building, renovating schools

Quebec City -

The Quebec Liberal Party accused the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government favouritism in school construction and renovation on Thursday.

All but one of the school renovation and construction projects selected for 2023-2024 are in CAQ ridings, according to the Liberal Party (PLQ), which obtained the information through the Access to Information Act.

Liberal MNA Marwah Rizqy claimed that $220 million worth of school construction work in Liberal ridings has been "put on hold."

During question period on Thursday, Education Minister Bernard Drainville replied that these choices were not his responsibility: projects were "evaluated" by public servants according to "objective criteria," he said.

"We don't get involved in classification; it's not complicated," the minister maintained.

"Objective criteria are tantamount to being a [CAQ MNA]," denounced Rizqy, who, according to the government's deputy House leader, Éric Caire, "prejudges the intentions of the party."

"There are 90 CAQ MNAs in this House, so it's normal that there should be more schools opened in 90 ridings on a pro-rata basis," said Drainville. There are, in, fact, 89.

"I don't mind there being more MNAs, but all things considered, that doesn't add up to 100 per cent of the schools," the Liberal MNA fired back in a press scrum.

She pointed out that two projects have been frozen in her riding of Saint-Laurent, even though the population has grown from 98,000 to 104,000.

"In the Chameran district, per square kilometre, it's comparable to Mumbai. Still, in Ville Saint-Laurent, some 600 young people are being transported to three different schools due to a lack of places … Some children eat on the floor," she said.

Rizqy challenged Premier François Legault, reminding him of one of his statements on April 12, to the effect that "no project for schools is refused," she quoted.

"Facts are stubborn," she concluded.


The list of "Projets d'ajout d'espace et de remplacement retenus au Plan québécois des infrastructures (PQI) 2023-2024" obtained by Rizqy includes 48 worksites. They add up to a total of 222 classrooms, for a total of $677 million in financial assistance from the ministry.

Only one project is in a riding not held by the CAQ, Vaudreuil, represented by an independent MNA, Marie-Claude Nichols, formerly a Liberal.

"Vaudreuil, a riding you have your sights set on," Rizqy accused, referring to the CAQ.

In the letter sent in response to Rizqy's access to information request, it is stated that "modernization projects ... do not require authorization from the ministry; the organizations prioritize and choose for themselves the asset maintenance projects they intend to carry out."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Sept. 21, 2023. Top Stories

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