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Legault government invokes closure to pass Hydro-Québec rates bill

Quebec government invokes closure on Bill 34
ABOVE: Quebec government invokes closure on Bill 34

The Quebec government has invoked closure to pass legislation that will allow it to take control of the rates charged for electricity in the province.

Bill 34 was adopted just after midnight, 60 votes to 39, after legislature members spent their Saturday debating the bill.

The controversial legislation will see hydro rates frozen for 2020 and raised according to inflation after that.

READ MORE: CAQ tables bill calling for Hydro-Québec to reimburse customers for overbilling

It allows Hydro-Québec to avoid having to undergo an annual examination by the province’s energy board.

An opposition Parti Québécois member argued the bill means Premier François Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec government will renounce its promise to repay $1.5 billion overcharged to Quebecers and will also impose increases worth $600 million over the next five years.

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The government has argued the legislation is pressing because it would allow the province to return $500 million in January to Hydro-Québec customers — a roughly $60 credit for residential clients.

READ MORE: Quebec government could invoke closure to force adoption of Bill 34

Interim Liberal Leader Pierre Arcand argued there was no urgency — it was simply a Coalition Avenir Québec government looking for additional money to finance its election promises.

It’s the third time in six months the Legault government has used closure to end debate on legislation — the last two being Bill 21, the province’s controversial secularism law; and Bill 9, the province’s immigration reform legislation.

Who’s to blame for the delays?
Who’s to blame for the delays?