Tuesday, December 12, 2023

The parties must join together by the tram

For Quebec to catch up on its immense backlog and finally acquire a structuring public transportation network, all elected officials who are in favor of the tram project will have to come together this fall to demonstrate their support.

After more than ten years of setbacks and mistakes, most of which are attributable to the Legault government, the tramway is preparing to take a crucial step towards completion this fall, with the submission of financial proposals by the consortia.

In the current economic context, added to the scarcity of consortia, things smell bad in terms of costs. This raises fears for the future of the project.

Bad faith

The government has already considerably harmed the tram by causing unnecessary delays in its progress.

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His minister Geneviève Guilbault, now in Transport, has never shown the slightest fervor when she talks about it either. Her claim this week that “taxpayers have a right to eventually receive an update on light rail” was dubious and unnecessary in her context.

But if the project’s first allies also contribute to facing headwinds, we are not out of danger.

In this sense, the intervention of the PQ leader, who questioned the Government’s transparency in terms of costs, did not hit the mark.

In fact, it is Quebec City that manages the project. The City is awaiting financial proposals from infrastructure consortia on November 2. Mayor Bruno Marchand has explained many times that he did not want to reveal cost figures so as not to jeopardize negotiations and avoid a bidding war. This position is defensible.

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The PQ demonstrated and all the parties in the National Assembly adopted a motion reiterating their support for the current project.

Now, the shoes will have to walk, and this applies to all parts.

No blank check

That popular support has fallen in the polls is not surprising, given the time that has passed since the current project was presented in 2018. Furthermore, the first phase of such projects is suffering waves of opposition around the world, because people only see the negative. aspects of it, without having yet been able to use it.

But the job of politicians, who have the responsibility of listening to the experts, is precisely to collaborate so that it is carried out in the best possible conditions. Quebecers are proud and the idea that the billions destined to develop the territory with this project will end up in Montreal or elsewhere is unsustainable.

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Obviously, this does not mean that elected officials should hand out a blank check to consortia.

But the slightest attempt at political recovery of the project risks upending it, which would be extremely detrimental to the Quebec region. Elected officials, whether in city council or the National Assembly, have a duty to be aware of this.

Nation World News Desk
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