‘Premier Legault, create wealth in your own province, and let us stop depending on the wealth of others!’

Québec's public finances are recording an unprecedented deficit of $15 billion, our unemployment rate, which was historically low a year ago, is now around 11%, our SMEs are more fragile than ever and personal and commercial bankruptcies are piling up every hour: in short, our economy is in peril, in a scenario that reminds us of the Great Depression.

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Since discussions on economic recovery are making a lot of noise, it is time to question François Legault on the strategy to be used to put Québec back on its feet.

A simple, effective and environmentally friendly solution is within reach: the exploitation of our natural resources. To create wealth here and stop depending on the wealth of others.

Here is a portrait of Quebec’s energy situation (according to the National Energy Board):

35% of our overall energy demand is met by hydroelectricity, while 41% is met by petroleum products, 15% by natural gas and 9% by other energy sources (including renewable energy, coal, etc.).

A simple calculation shows that at least 56% of our energy demand is met by imports. And as the pandemic has shown us, just like the rail blockades of February 2020, this dependence on imports only exposes a strategic weakness that can harm both our economy and the well-being of our communities.

The strike by CN employees in November 2019 led Quebec farmers to express their dissatisfaction, while we were facing a shortage of propane, a vital source of energy for the latest harvests. You will have understood that 100% of our propane is also imported, which only goes to show how this dependence on imports is not just a question of gas for our cars.

The most frustrating part of this story is that we have everything we need. Under our feet. In phenomenal quantities. And of a quality to make any nation in the world jealous.

Quebec’s natural gas reserves, concentrated mainly in the southern part of the St. Lawrence Valley, are estimated at approximately 250 to 1150 billion cubic metres (m3). At the current rate of consumption, Quebec would have sufficient reserves for a minimum of 40 years.

Instead of importing close to $2 billion worth of natural gas every year, do you think it would be more stimulating for our economy than to develop our own natural gas and invest that money in our communities? Better yet, we would have enough natural gas to allow Europe to quietly end its dependence on coal, which would really allow us to be a major strategic player in the fight against climate change.

Moreover, according to the IEA (International Energy Agency), natural gas is the best alternative to coal, even the transition energy par excellence. In this era of climate emergency, this gas is a strategic asset.

But why François Legault’s lack of enthusiasm for this solution? While his government is gaining historic popular support, it is destabilizing to note that there is still no concrete plan on the table to allow Quebec to develop its strategic assets and create the wealth that the CAQ has boasted, during the 2018 election, to offer Quebecers.

It’s time for Legault to show some boldness in the face of opposition parties, the green lobby and Transition Pact activists who hope to see the reality experienced in the pandemic perpetuate itself: slower economy, lower consumption, no cars on the road, guaranteed minimum income, etc.).

To restore Quebec to its former greatness, François Legault must return to one of the CAQ’s flagship promises, when it hoped one day to form the government: to create wealth in the rural communities. As Montreal quietly empties itself of its families unable to find affordable housing, the time is more than right to decentralize the economy and create opportunities in the most neglected regions.

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