Regarding last week’s editorial, “Ooh la la: is Plan Nord becoming Plan Non?”, the underlying issue with Plan Nord is that from a good idea the Charest government has totally misled not just Quebecers and Canadians but many potential international investors.
Following the slick dog and pony presentation of Plan Nord last year, the ruling Liberals have pushed economic development initiatives that run counter to Plan Nord, though all have died with the dissolution of Parliament: Bill 65 was to block 50% of the territory north of the 49th parallel, a territory the size of France, from all potential development including exploration; Bill 14 was to give 1,200 municipalities veto power on mining exploration and development, a move that would undermine provincial fiduciary responsibilities given by the Constitution; there were to be imposed environmental reviews for all extraction (already in place for 7,000 tons!) and expropriation without compensation of thousands of rightfully owned claims, a move that went clearly against the North American Free Trade Agreement on investments.
Bill 14 had already retroactively frozen all claim requests throughout the province since May 13, 2011.
Even with a Liberal majority in the National Assembly, the government was not able to pass Bill 27 which was to establish the Crown Corp. that would have managed the Plan Nord!
Such weak leadership in managing mineral resources in Quebec had already been demonstrated in the mismanagement of our forest resources with Bill 65, which will come into full effect next spring unless Quebecers put an end to a government that has been kowtowing to all sides for the last eight years.
Sadly from a natural resource development perspective, the Parti Québécois seems poised to take power with absolutely worse ideas, the most dramatic one being to adopt and impose the Australian royalty model on a sector that has but 15 viable mining operations versus nearly 900 ones for our Down Under cousins.
That leaves the Coalition Avenir Québec. This new party still needs to formulate a clearer platform for mining and natural resources, but at least they have the head of a junior mining company running in a Montreal area riding.
There may still be hope that mineral development in Quebec will find its letters of nobility and cease to be either the punching bag or the mythical milking cow for a government aiming to be all things to all people!
Michel A. Rathier, Consulting Partner
Secor Consulting, Montreal, PQ
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