[Chronique de Jean-François Lisée] Election wonders

He said, “The skeptics will be confounded! » Who ? Captain Bonhomme, a character in children’s programs on the late Télé-Métropole. It still haunts the subconscious of Quebec baby boomers. If they are faithful to their recent behavior, the latter will also go to the polls, on October 3, in a much higher proportion (from 73 to 78%) than the under 35s (54%).

Political parties work very hard to confound the skepticism surrounding election promises. The existence of a financial framework used to justify expenses is an invention of this century that we owe to Jean Charest, in 2003. The fact that the framework must be based on figures validated by the Auditor General (AG) less than a decade old. No more in the search for rigor: the Parti Québécois and Québec solidaire have submitted their GHG reduction plans to the validation of external experts.

The parties in power and the media offered a more or less rigorous monitoring of the implementation of the promises. Recently, external experts, such as those of the Polimeter, count the thing in a systematic way. According to them, the government of the Coalition avenir Québec has completely fulfilled 55% of its promises, and completely broken 21% of them. It remains for everyone to judge the relative importance of promises kept or broken, such as the scandalous abandonment of the reform of the voting system.

We can only applaud the professionalization of the exercise. If it is more difficult for a party to promise us – as François Legault accuses Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois of doing – the « land of wonders », the tightening of the net does not prevent certain completely outlandish promises from sneaking in.

The financial framework of Québec solidaire tells us, for example, that setting up the government corporation Pharma-Québec, which would produce drugs for us and for us, would enable the government to save $1.3 billion as soon as next year ! Yes, you see, we would be able to find the land, draw the plans, build the factories, hire the workers, negotiate the purchase of the licenses, procure the raw materials, produce and distribute the pills on time, in just 17 months .

At the other end of the spectrum, the financial framework of the Conservative Party of Quebec promises us for 2024 the first fruits of the great return of the exploitation of shale gas in the lowlands of the Saint-Laurent. With inflows of $88 million that year, followed by double two years later. The line is called « Gaz Utica », and refers specifically to the project of the company of the same name to bring around Bécancour the drilling wells that had been so well received there under Jean Charest (!). And since Éric Duhaime does not plan to abolish the BAPE, either he believes that his opinion will be favorable this time, or he will ignore an unfavorable opinion.

The greatest marvel of the campaign was Dominique Anglade’s promise to find a family doctor for every Quebecer. Yet she was Deputy Prime Minister of a government that demonstrated that it was impossible, even by threatening doctors with a significant loss of income.

But that’s nothing compared to the 154 terawatt hours he needs to carry out his ECO project for electrification and the production of green hydrogen. Mme Anglade rejects the construction of new dams and relies on wind and solar power.

Except in remote areas, in the current state of technology, Quebec solar remains a mirage. Hydro tells us that it takes “up to 70 solar panels to meet the energy demand of an average home. However, the space required to install them represents the equivalent of two-thirds of a tennis court”. Remains the wind. Quebec now has 1,935 wind turbines producing 3,885 megawatt hours. To supply the demand required by the Liberal project, it would suffice to add, on this basis, 76.7 million wind turbines, or 9 wind turbines for each Quebecer!

Parties are proposing a considerable increase in heavy investments for transport, schools and housing. François Legault is not the only one to invoke an argument, let’s say, concrete! Who will build all these subways, trams and schools? In its pre-election report, the AG questions the government’s ability to fulfill the commitments announced – nearly 65 billion in infrastructure in the next term.

His skepticism is fueled by « litigation, environmental standards, funding and the availability of contractors with the [compétences] to achieve them. In addition, the shortage of labor and supply problems could delay the realization”. Last month, Statistics Canada informed us that the shortage of construction workers has doubled in two years: more than 80,000 pairs of arms are missing.

The Liberals are only rearranging the existing sum, like the PCQ. The CAQ proposes to add 3 billion to it, an increase of 5% on the mandate, which one can hardly suppose plausible. The PQ proposes to increase heavy investments by 10% in four years, which seems dangerously optimistic. The QS project is to add 32 billion in infrastructure in four years, thus increasing the budget and the work already planned by 50%. At this level, we are in pure magical thinking.

I still give the palm of wonders to Éric Duhaime. His solution to repatriate immigration powers: get all parties to agree. First, unanimous motions from the National Assembly have already demanded additional powers from Ottawa. Then, the former political attaché of the Bloc and Preston Manning, Duhaime, should know that there is a shredder in Ottawa reserved for the unanimous motions of our National Assembly. Truly, a marvel!

jflisee@ledevoir.com; blog: jflisee.org

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