[Chronique de Michel David] The Boeotians

After 14 years of active politics, Véronique Hivon described the world she had just left in these terms: « It’s a universe that was really forged by the masculine reflexes of white men who, at the time, had wives at home who could take care of everything else in the universe when they were just working. »

Even if a record number of women were elected last October 3 and the new Council of Ministers is located in the “parity zone”, the masculine reflexes of which the former MP for Joliette spoke have not necessarily disappeared.

It was quickly understood that the new Super-Minister of the Economy and Energy, Pierre Fitzgibbon, and the CEO of Hydro-Québec, Sophie Brochu, had differences of opinion on the use that should be make electricity that will be produced by the state corporation over the next few decades.

Mr. Fitzgibbon is the perfect illustration of Premier Legault’s credo, according to which the creation of wealth is « the basis of everything », while Mr.me Brochu believes that Hydro-Québec should not become a “Dollarama” serving companies looking for cheap energy and that priority should instead be given to the transition to a green economy.

It is not surprising or outrageous that people with different experiences do not have the same vision of the future and try to make their point of view prevail.

The problem is that Mr. Fitzgibbon seems to believe that his disagreement with Mr. Brochu is due to the fact that she does not « understand » the file as a whole, beyond the simple profitability of Hydro-Québec, and that she will come round to his point of view when she has been presented with « the work as a whole ». The idea that she might not knowingly share his opinion doesn’t seem to have crossed her mind.

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This manifestation of mansplaining illustrates very well what Véronique Hivon was talking about. In an interview with Radio-Canada earlier this week, the minister finally understood that he may have chosen his words poorly, but this was not his first clumsiness of its kind.

Last year, he treated with the same condescension the solidarity deputy for Mercier, Ruba Ghazal, who criticized him for having favored companies that did not meet the criteria of the aid programs administered by his ministry.

« Obviously, she does not understand how the system works, » he said, inviting the MP to « do her homework ».

However, M.me Ghazal had simply endorsed the findings of the Auditor General of Quebec, Guylaine Leclerc, who could certainly not be blamed for a lack of understanding of the functioning of public administration.

Since entering politics, Mr. Fitzgibbon has had the unfortunate tendency to regard anyone who questions his conduct as foolish. « Having me ask 45-second questions by people who don’t know what they’re talking about, it bothers me, » he said in an interview with the Montreal Journal.

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The bootians of Log struck again this week by revealing that aid totaling 50 million, in the form of the purchase of shares, had been granted in 2021 to the company LMPG, while one of the shareholders and directors, Michel Ringuet, acted as agent of Mr. Fitzgibbon’s assets blind trust. Curiously, neither his department nor Investissement Québec, for which he is the minister responsible, had seen fit to report on this transaction.

Of course, a company should not be penalized because it has already had links with a minister, but any appearance of conflict of interest must be avoided. However, according to his department, Mr. Fitzgibbon was involved in the LMPG file since he gave his authorization for the purchase of shares, which he refused to confirm at the time.

Again, he explained that “we need to better understand the situation”. Notice to beotians, there can be no conflict of interest because of “the nature of the investment authorization process”, which is “very rigorous”.

We would like to believe him, but his explanations have not been enough to convince the Ethics Commissioner in the past. He has already been the subject of four investigations on his part, one of which led to his exclusion from the Council of Ministers for three months. Is there something he himself does not understand? The Parti Québécois asked the commissioner to look again at his case. This is undoubtedly part of this continuity that Mr. Legault was talking about.

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