Premier François Legault to force the Caisse to purchase REM trains made in Quebec

Architectural renderings of different stations and engineering works of Montreal's Réseau express métropolitain (REM). CNW Group/CDPQ Infra Inc.

Premier François Legault says his government will force the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec to purchase trains made in Quebec as part of the extension of Montreal’s Réseau Express Métropolitain (REM) light-rail system.

“It’s certain. Whether in the form of the REM or tramways … for sure we will require local content,” he said Saturday at the Coalition Avenir Québec’s party convention on green issues in Montreal.

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The Caisse, Quebec’s pension fund operator, has a mandate to operate independently and free of political interference in its decisions.

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Legault said Saturday he never understood why the former Liberal government did not require the Caisse to purchase products manufactured in Quebec.

Environment Minister Benoit Charette echoed the statement, telling reporters there will be a local content requirement for the second phase of the REM transit network. He added that any infrastructure project related to public transit will now have Quebec content requirements.

“Quebec grants the contracts. It determines the mandates. So, it has every right to require certain special clauses,” he said.

READ MORE: With parking spots lacking for REM stations, West Islanders hope for a change

The CAQ government has pledged to extend the REM, which the Caisse owns, by nearly 40 kilometres to Laval and Chambly. Public funds will pay for nearly half of the more than $6-billion project.

The plan for the REM, now under construction, includes a major line that runs from Deux-Montagnes to the Montérégie, passing through downtown Montreal, with branches extending to the West Island and toward Trudeau airport.

The Quebec-made trains will be fully compatible with the 212 first-phase cars manufactured at the Alstom plant in southeastern India, Charette said.

“It’s not an issue at the technology level,” he said.

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READ MORE: REM officials lay out mitigation measures for commuters as construction ramps up

Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon was more cautious Saturday. He declined to say whether the provincial government will require local content.

“We’ll see what will happen with the project, how we’ll connect the North Shore and the South Shore. When we have decided what to do, we certainly like to support Quebec, but there are international rules that must be respected,” he said.

About 1,200 members of the CAQ convened Saturday for a two-day party convention in Montreal to draw up an environmental road map for the province.

READ MORE: ‘We didn’t focus on the environment’: CAQ admits more needs to be done to green the economy

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