The Legault government will give the green light to the continuation of the tramway project, with or without a shared street, but on one condition: that the mayor of Quebec, Bruno Marchand, demonstrates that his choices are supported by “a majority of citizens”.
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Should a referendum be held? “It is not up to the Government of Quebec to decide how it ensures that it has the support of the population,” Premier François Legault dropped on Tuesday.
“It will be up to the mayor of Quebec to decide how he does that,” he added, on the eve of the adoption of the long-awaited decrees by the City of Quebec.
Without these government authorizations, the Marchand administration cannot launch calls for proposals for the infrastructure and rolling stock components of the tramway project, in which more than $250 million have already been spent, out of a total budget that is now close to 4 G. $.
And how high should the level of social acceptability be? “Minimally, it’s 50% +1,” launched the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Jonatan Julien, after leaving the Blue Room. “It’s at least a majority of citizens,” he explained.
change of tone
Contrary to what many had learned from the quarrel through the media in recent weeks, everything suggests that the CAQ government will not force Mayor Marchand to back down on the development of a 500 m portion of René-Lévesque in shared street, for the passage of the tramway.
“The development and then the detail of the Quebec tramway is the responsibility of the City of Quebec”, admitted in a press briefing the Prime Minister, who was accused last week of interfering in an issue that falls under municipal jurisdiction.
“We, our responsibility, then the responsibility of our deputies in Quebec, is to listen to the citizens, however indicated Mr. Legault. And that is why what we are going to ask the mayor of Quebec is quite simply to ensure that there is social acceptability.
But according to our sources, in the ranks of the Caquists, the fear that this shared street will generate congestion as far as the bridge sector remains.
The population already consulted
In the eyes of the opposition parties, the population has already been widely consulted regarding the tramway project.
“The overwhelming majority of people in the Quebec region, in the last municipal elections, voted for parties that want a tramway,” recalled the parliamentary leader of Quebec solidaire, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois.
“I decode that social acceptability, which he speaks of, is social acceptability within his caucus, first and foremost,” commented Liberal leader Dominique Anglade.
PQ MP Pascal Bérubé, for his part, suspects the government of looking for a way “not to have to manage that during the election campaign”.
“It’s the fear of displeasing a certain very localized electorate in the Capitale-Nationale,” believes Mr. Bérubé.