Bill 61: the government Legault loses his bet

Projet de loi 61: le gouvernement Legault perd son pari

Photo: Jacques Boissinot The canadian Press
The premier of Quebec, François Legault (pictured left) and the president of the treasury Board, Christian Dubé

The bet was risky : to adopt a draft omnibus law on the economic recovery in ten days with the consent of the opposition parties and independent deputies. The government Legault has been fine plead the urgency and rally the major municipal associations, it has not managed to convince its opponents of the need to grant him emergency powers for two years. The work of the national Assembly were adjourned for the summer recess on Friday, referring to the debate in the fall. Here is an overview of five points to issues that have raised controversy.

1. Economic recovery

After you beat the equivalent of $ 2.9 billion in infrastructure projects, the government Legault wanted to accelerate their construction to stimulate the quebec economy was severely hit by the pandemic. “Our government is a responsible thing to do today,” said the president of the treasury Board, Christian Dubé, the day of the deposit of its bill on June 3. The government believed the economic impact at $ 2.3 billion. Homes of the elderly, NURSING homes, hospitals, schools, repair of roads and public transport… all In all, 202 projects already included in the québec infrastructures Plan (constructing piq) were targeted, including the extension of the electrical Network, metropolitan collective transport (REM) and the extension of the blue line of the metro in Montreal. Projects ” crucial to the economic development of Québec and its regions “, according to the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec. The minister would have had the power to add projects by decree, provided that they meet two conditions, either to increase the self-sufficiency medical or food self-sufficiency. The minister Dubé was later added provisions to prevent the eviction of the businesses unable to pay their rent and to allow restaurateurs to deliver alcohol. The opposition parties were said to be willing to adopt them separately from the rest of the bill. “We will not let go, said Mr. Dubé rebuffed on Friday. We will find solutions. We are going to try to find solutions, but it is certain that it delays ? The answer is yes. “However, some projects will take more time to achieve, according to him, because they will not be able to benefit from the expropriation procedure lean provided for in his bill. “With what just happened, forget it, the blue line “, he said.

Ce text is part of our “Outlook” section.

2. State health emergency

The government initially planned to extend the state of emergency health until he decides to end it. In addition to the power to order compulsory vaccination, closing schools or prohibiting the access to a territory, this provision of the Law on public health also gives him the power to ” make expenditures and enter into contracts as it deems necessary “. This act provides for the renewal of the state of health emergency every ten days, or for a maximum period of 30 days with the agreement of the national Assembly. This deadline acts as a “bulwark” to the wide powers available to the government during this period, recalled the Barreau du Québec, in a parliamentary commission on Wednesday. “The downside to the government having to renew the state of emergency every ten days is relatively low and I would even say insignificant,” said the president of the bar, Paul-Mathieu Grondin. The ombudsperson, Mary Rinfret, has suggested that the limit to six months. The government has finally agreed to limit until October 1, 2020, which would have given a little more than three months if the bill 61 had been adopted before the summer recess. “The health emergency leads to perverse effects because it allows the government to pass orders-in-council, of what he wants, as he wants, when he wants, said the independent mna Guy Ouellette. And it is creating collateral damage that is very important and to create inequalities among our guardian angels. “

3. Integrity

The minister Sonia LeBel, the ex-prosecutor of the Charbonneau commission, acknowledged Friday that she had worked at the removal of article 50 of the draft law can be seen as an invitation to the return of the collusion and corruption. This article allowed the government to derogate from the Statute on contracts of public bodies (LCOP) to enter into contracts over the counter and not bend to the rule of the lowest bidder. Many groups, including the Barreau du Québec, the auditor general, the Office of the inspector general of the City of Montreal and the public Committee of monitoring of the recommendations of the Charbonneau commission has put the government on guard. Minister Christian Dubé has removed the article 50, but was added to article 50.1, which poses the same problem, according to this panel of four researchers. Under this new article, it is the municipalities who have the right to change, modify, or circumvent, the rules of management of public contracts normally applicable to them. In clear, Québec would give “carte blanche” to municipal agencies, summarizes interview Luc Bégin, university, and member of the monitoring committee. A situation all the more disturbing is that the are currently in the game are ” huge “, he recalls. “I worked on the removal of article 50 and I am currently working on potential improvements to the section 50.1 to make it reasonably acceptable, to reassure the public that safeguards are in place, while respecting the objectives which are conveyed by my colleague from the ministry of municipal Affairs and municipalities “, said minister LeBel on Friday. His colleague Christian Dubé recalled that it had added a further amendment to accelerate payments from the government to the construction companies as provided for in recommendation 15 of the Charbonneau commission. The opposition parties also requested greater powers for the public procurement Authority, the minister has promised to do in the fall by filing another bill. Several speakers, including the auditor general, were raised by the parliamentary commission that had to be corrected for the inefficiency of the government apparatus.


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4. Environment

The measures included in the bill 61auraient accelerated the popular consultations upstream of the evaluation of the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE). They have also enabled the minister of the Environment to authorize direct financial compensation when a construction project would result in the destruction of a wetland, a habitat of flora or wildlife, and in particular that of a threatened species. Several groups have argued that this provision allowed one to circumvent the environmental laws. Minister Christian Dubé has attempted to close this gap by including the principle that a sponsor should first of all prevent destroy a habitat. If he is unable, he needs to minimize the impacts of its project. The financial compensation for the destruction of the natural habitat being a last resort. Équiterre, the quebec Centre of environmental law, Greenpeace, the David Suzuki Foundation and the Society for parks and wilderness (CPAWS) Quebec felt that it was an ” advanced “on the margins”.

5. Aboriginal rights

Bill 61 was also cringe-the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL). “The exceptional circumstances of a pandemic does not mean that in any case the federal and provincial governments to comply with their obligations to aboriginal and treaty rights of treaty First Nations “, stated chief Ghislain Picard. It has been argued by the parliamentary commission that projects could be undertaken on lands not ceded before to consult the indigenous communities affected and, therefore, to obtain the rights necessary for you to move forward. It urged the government Legault to comply with united Nations Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples, and to take advantage of the impasse with the opposition parties to include “fundamental rights” of First Nations.

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