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This is not talk

In politics, the path taken sometimes has more important consequences than reaching the goal itself.

Posted at 6:00 am


Simple example. A city can build a great park alone and quickly.

On the other hand, if it takes the time to ask citizens about the accessibility on foot and by bike, about the game modules to be installed there, about the future landscaping, about the name of the park … the citizens have one Park who is looks like the one who best meets her needs. They will be proud of it, they will use it, take care of it and protect it from vandals.

Not only will the city have built a park, but it will have mobilized a community and cemented its sense of belonging.

Last Wednesday, 101 Quebec organizations asked Minister Fitzgibbon to expand planned consultations on Quebec’s energy future.

Neither Mr. Legault nor Mr. Fitzgibbon like big consultations. Developing an ambitious energy policy in Quebec is one of the occasions when they should overcome their aversion to this type of exercise.

In fact, the mandate given by the Prime Minister is ambitious: Quebec is to become the first carbon neutral state in North America1. Not less. The minister in charge will need the help of all Quebecers.

A traditional consultation would certainly produce a detailed shopping list, but not a national vision with clear priorities, and it will certainly not lead to real national mobilization. If Quebec wants to make a real environmental transition, both will be necessary.

The choices we have to make regarding our energy future concern not only hydropower projects, but also our consumption habits, our means of transport, the efficiency and energy supply of buildings, the exploitation of minerals, especially for the electrification of transport, land management, protection of Wetlands, waterways, agricultural land… and coexistence with the communities affected by our collective choices, especially the indigenous people. There will be outcry, mobilization against certain decisions, “yes, but that”, “yes, but me”, etc.

Given this complexity, the government will need allies to achieve quick results. The chosen procedure must therefore clarify a certain number of questions, remove some obstacles, produce joint observations, start accepting the least popular measures and, more importantly, allow for the formation of alliances on specific issues. Passing on the collective reflection too quickly will jeopardize its implementation.

Relying on the suggestions of many groups, the ideal process would begin with the States General, hence a tour of Quebec to take stock of the issues affecting Quebecers.

The government would turn the consultation report into a white paper, ie the declaration of its intentions. This white paper would then be the subject of a generic BAPE, ie a public consultation combined with scientific opinions on the planned measures. It’s too long ? The government just has to set the deadlines… and nothing would stop them from acting along the way, according to the first consensus that is about to emerge.

Exercises like this serve to strengthen the bonds between us, to move us away from principled positions, to bring us closer to concrete solutions, and thus to find compromises. We are far from chatting, this kind of practice is building the future.

In 1977, René Lévesque organized the Pointe-au-Pic Summit to address the serious problem of conflicting industrial relations in Quebec. For the first time bosses, trade unions, politicians and civil society spoke directly to each other. A specific counseling model was born.

In 1996, two summits enabled consensus to be reached on the importance of achieving zero deficit and the pace needed to achieve it, but also on the need to set up CPEs, automatically, implement pay equity and launch the Social Economy project . Quebec’s consultative model, unique in North America, has borne many fruits. The government should learn from the experience gained.

Quebec will not easily become the first carbon-neutral state in North America.

It’s gonna be tough. It will require bold collective decisions. A minister, even a super minister, will not do it alone: ​​we will need everyone’s efforts. Hence the importance of the process.

A wide-ranging consultative and participatory exercise, coupled with serious recourse to science, could foster popular buy-in and generate enthusiasm. Above all, it could give the impetus needed to implement an ambitious energy policy which, as Mr Legault wishes, could resemble a real social project.