On September 28, the Chamber welcomed François Legault, the Premier of Quebec and Leader of the Coalition Avenir Québec, for one in a series of talks leading up to the 2022 Quebec elections.
During September, the leaders of the main political parties are presenting their proposals for the economic future of Quebec and Greater Montréal.
Leverage our natural resources to become the world leader of the new green economy
The Premier began his speech by expressing his desire for Quebec to become the leader in transitioning to a low-carbon economy.
“It is not an exaggeration to say that Quebec can become a world leader of the green economy. If we make smart decisions, we can become leaders of the new economy.” – François Legault
François Legault believes that the natural resources of Quebec and the environmental transition are an economic opportunity for the province.
“Our plan for a green economy, it’s seven billion. We need to invest in future-oriented sectors. We need to develop the battery industry. It’s important, we have lithium in Quebec. It’s important to make us of it and refine it. To refine it here.”
He then reiterated his wish to see Quebec be the first carbon-neutral province or state in North America. According to him, more dams need to be built for that wish to come true.
“To do this, it will take a lot of electricity for our transportation, industries and buildings. Currently, Hydro-Québec produces 200 terawatt-hours. To achieve zero emissions by 2050, we’re going to need 100 more terawatt-hours. To get there, we need to grow Hydro-Québec by half in the coming years.”
Increase in wealth that needs to go hand in hand with inflation assistance
The Premier did not hide his fixation with closing the wealth gap between Quebec and Ontario.
“My obsession is to close the gap with Ontario. I don’t accept it. In 2018, there was a 16% GDP difference. The difference is now 13%; we managed to gain 3%.”
If Coalition Avenir Québec is re-elected, they intend to give Quebecers more money, similar to the cheques handed out in spring 2022.
“In the short term, one of the challenges is inflation. Quebecers are suffering. Especially our seniors who have small pensions. We need to provide regular help, it’s what we want to do in December.”
He also proposed a cap on government fees.
“The Bill 1 presented by a new CAQ government would regulate all fees. On driver’s licences, and on everything. We’re going to set a cap on all government fees, at the lowest inflation rate or 3%.”
Immigration rates that must remain at 50,000 new arrivals per year
The Premier reiterated that immigration rates would remain at 50,000 a year.
“Immigration is not a panacea. Immigrants who come here with their families add stress to health and housing services. We’re going to continue taking 50,000 a year.”
He thinks that immigrants need to be selected based on Quebec’s economic needs.
“We need to select immigrants according to business needs rather than a first-come, first-served basis. We have no other choice and we aren’t the only ones to do this.”
According to Coalition Avenir Québec, stopping the decline of French requires that the majority of selected immigrants master French when they arrive.
“Look at the numbers. Under previous government, only 50% of the people who were chosen spoke French. For two years now, 80% speak French.”
The decline of the French language, a pillar of our national identity
François Legault then argued that it would be suicidal for French to increase the number of new arrivals to the province.
“The numbers are clear. As long as we have not stopped the decline of French, for the Québec nation that wants to protect its language, it would be suicidal to increase immigration rates.”
The Leader of Coalition Avenir Québec also sees the use of a language other than French at work also contributing to this decline.
“Only 56% of Montrealers work in French. How are we supposed to require French if it’s not a priority?”
The Premier wanted to make it clear that Bill 96 would not prevent international businesses from having employees who use English at work.
“Some business in some sectors were always allowed to speak English. Bill 101 has not changed as far as that is concerned.”
As a reminder, the Chamber unveiled the priorities of Montréal’s businesses in August.