Quebec hits pause on Bill 61, treasury board president says province will table new legislation

Treasury Board President Sonia Lebel responds to reporters questions after Quebec Premier Francois Legault, right, announced a cabinet shuffle, Monday, June 22, 2020 at the legislature in Quebec City. Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

The Quebec government is taking a step back on Bill 61, its contentious plan to ramp up infrastructure projects.

Treasury Board president Sonia LeBel told French-language television network TVA in an interview Wednesday that the government will draw up new proposed legislation with the same goals.

“We are going to table a new bill,” she said, adding it was easier to begin with a new draft than to incorporate changes based on feedback.

Bill 61, known as an “Act to restart Quebec’s economy and to mitigate the consequences of the public health emergency” due to the COVID-19 crisis, was initially tabled in early June by Christian Dubé, the previous treasury board president.

Read more: Quebec looks to revive economy weakened by coronavirus crisis by fast tracking infrastructure projects

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At the time, the province wanted to fast-track 202 infrastructure projects — including the construction of schools, seniors’ homes, roads and public transit systems. Premier François Legault had argued it was key to relaunching the economy.

Quebec’s opposition parties were quick to criticize the bill, saying it could leave the province vulnerable to corruption and collusion since it would allow some projects to be sped up without all the checks and balances in place.

Despite changes to the bill, the opposition parties succeeded in stalling the proposed legislation in July and pushing its potential passage to the fall session.

When asked about the government’s plan to start from scratch, Dubé said Wednesday he thinks LeBel’s future bill will “have the same objectives.”

Quebec Solidaire co-spokesperson and MNA Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois said in a statement the government’s decision to kill the bill that the party was “right to stand up and refuse to pass this abusive bill in a rush.”

Click to play video: 'Health-care workers react to Quebec government’s plan for second COVID-19 wave' Health-care workers react to Quebec government’s plan for second COVID-19 wave
Health-care workers react to Quebec government’s plan for second COVID-19 wave – Aug 18, 2020

With files from the Canadian Press


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