On September 4, 2012 the Parti Québécois was elected into a minority government and Pauline Marois became Quebec’s first ever female Premier. The PQ won office with less than 32% of the vote so time will tell how effective they will be at implementing the many changes on their electoral and party programs. However the cabinet selected by dame de béton or “Lady Concrete” indicates that she may have some green preferences.

It includes:

  • Martine Ouellet – Minister of Natural Resources
  • Daniel Breton – Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment, Wildlife and Parks (resigned on November 29, 2012 – remains as a MP. M. Yves-Francois Blanchet was named in his place on Dec 4, 2012)
  • Scott McKay – Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment, Wildlife and Parks  

Martine Ouellet is a mechanical engineer & MBA. She worked for Hydro-Quebec from 1992 until 2010; and from 2008 – 2010 was president of “Eau Secours!”, a coalition advocating for the responsible management of water. She was first elected into government in July 2010 where she served as opposition spokesperson for environment and sustainable development, parks and water, and mines and shale gas at various periods of her career.  

Daniel Breton, who joined the PQ in March of 2012, co-founded the Green Party of Quebec in 2001. Since his nomination as Minister, he had been overtly criticized for his alleged undue interference with the BAPE Commissioners. His alleged interference was to be examined by a Parliamentary Committee in early December. He resigned on November 29th.  

Scott McKay has a Master’s degree in environmental science and has spent most of his career to date in the environmental field. He led the Green Party of Quebec from 2006-08 and was then elected for the PQ. He has served as the Opposition Spokesperson for sustainable development and environment, for mines, and for environment, sustainable development and parks.  

Yves-Francois Blanchet’s background is in the cultural industry. He was first elected in 2008 and had since been mostly involved in cultural, education and citizens relations issues. He was president of Québec Earth Day from 2006 until 2008.  

The PQ electoral program contains some items that may, if adopted, directly impact businesses active in the natural resources and environment segments including:  

Mines:

  • The PQ intends to introduce a 5% minimum royalty on gross value of a mining company’s production; as well as a 30% tax on “supra-competitive” profit. It also intends to require that 2nd and 3rd processing be carried out in Quebec, whenever possible. Note that a bill to amend the Mining Act has been introduced on November 27, 2012, by the Liberals (Bill 197). It will be interesting to follow this bill over the coming months.

ENERGY INDEPENDENCE

  • The PQ intends to introduce production targets for renewable energy including hydraulic, wind, biomass, geothermal, solar, hydrogen, etc., to implement measures to drastically reduce Quebec’s consumption of petroleum and natural gas; and to introduce a royalty regime for petroleum extracted in Quebec (more than 50% of profits before taxes).
  • They intend to ensure that wind energy projects are controlled by the Government, co-ops or local communities. Currently only a minority of projects directly involve communities.  

OTHER AREAS OF NOTE IN THE PQ’S PROGRAMS

  • Potential increase of the GHG reduction target to 25% (from 20%) of 1990 GHG emissions levels by 2020
  • Decommission Gentilly 2 (nuclear facility)
  • Moratorium on shale gas development and production (pending an environmental assessment of the shale gas segment)
  • Review of Plan Nord to ensure more benefits for Québec  

These are just a few of the changes anticipated under Madame Marois and her cabinet. With such a narrow lead over the Liberal and CAQ parties and no history of being able to govern with a minority, there may need to be some compromises made in order to move actions forward.