The Supreme Court ruled: The tram project is not illegal. The judge completely dismissed the anti-tram arguments and ruled that the project can go ahead.
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“In short, nothing in the plaintiffs’ appeal constitutes an obstacle to the Québec streetcar project,” concludes Judge Clément Samson, whose judgment Le Journal obtained a copy of.
The judge confirmed that “the Council of Ministers had the authority to adjudicate on the Quebec streetcar project within the meaning of the provisions of the Environmental Quality Act”, that the procedure was conducted in accordance with that Act, which gave the Council of Ministers discretion to approve the Quebec plan accept. The court concludes that the plaintiffs fail in their application to call for a referendum because no law requires it.
In addition, “the courts have no jurisdiction to intervene in relation to violations of electoral obligations,” the judge said.
“Generally, the plaintiffs are failing in their challenge to the streetcar project as to any violation of their fundamental rights protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms,” he wrote. Accordingly, the claim for compensatory and punitive damages is dismissed.
Judge Clément Samson, who heard the anti-tram case last December, delivered his verdict Tuesday morning.
He was asked to decide a crucial question: Is the Quebec streetcar project illegal?
It is the claim of Group Quebec Deserves Better (QMM) that brought the case to the Supreme Court.
QMM has engaged the services of Attorney Guy Bertrand to represent it.
They called for the project to be halted and for the court to order a referendum on the project. Over four days in early December, the court heard arguments from both sides.
Quebec Mayor Bruno Marchand called the press at 11:30 am to share his reaction to the ruling. QMM will respond in the afternoon.
Transport Minister Geneviève Guilbault, asked to comment on the tribunal’s decision, was sparing with comments.
“The Réseau Express de la Capitale is an important project for the citizens of our Capitale-Nationale region. As this is the City of Quebec’s project, we will let them comment,” Ms. Guilbault’s press attaché, Louis-Julien Dufresne, said in an email.
During the trial, the plaintiffs called two residents who live along the route of the future tram. They uncovered the possible consequences of the project for their quality of life, one of them called the dispossessions “rape”.
Experts consulted by QMM said the project was “unacceptable” because the city had not considered all possible modes of transport.
The opponents had failed to publish the decisions of the Council of Ministers that preceded the adoption of the decree approving the tram.
For their part, the City of Quebec and the Government of Quebec had refuted all of QMM’s arguments, asking Judge Samson to consider the two experts’ papers “entirely useless” and to reject them.
The judge agreed with them. “The Court therefore rejects the reports and testimonies of these experts, respecting their apparent competence.” According to the court, Fanny Tremblay-Racicot “used shocking statements”, “delivered”.[é] his opinion” and “acted with a certain militancy normally at odds with what is expected of a neutral expert appearing in court”.
Clément Gosselin and Denis Poussart failed to point out in their report that a 2 km tunnel is “significantly cheaper” than the 20 km tunnel they recommend. In addition, Mr. Gosselin had “taken a partisan approach which in normal times would damage the evidentiary value of his testimony”.
The city reminded that it is not legally obliged to organize a referendum to make a decision about the tram. She argues that the project cannot be declared illegal once approved by the National Assembly.
The Quebec prosecutor, meanwhile, had argued that it was not for the court to assess the “political” decision made for the tram.
–Collaborated by Marc-André Gagnon, Parliament Office
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