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  • David Boudeweel-Lefebvre

Will Québec finally have its own energy debate?

Québec is at a crossroads when it comes to energy. Having relied almost entirely on hydroelectricity, the province now faces growing demand, overly generous export contracts and an inability to build new dams quickly.

 

Over the past 20 years, Québec has shut down its nuclear power plants, refused to allow the extraction of its abundant natural gas resources, limited the development of wind power, and long hesitated to facilitate the production of biogas. Each time, it has been under the guise of the energy abundance promised by the Hydro-Québec monopoly. Today, this lack of energy diversity is playing havoc with the economic ambitions of an entire society.

 

Energy is at the heart of economic development, and it's no coincidence that opponents of energy projects are often advocates of degrowth and turning back the clock. All modern societies seek energy security and produce the resources they have. Norway has become wealthy thanks to oil and natural gas, France is a leader in nuclear energy, and the windy Spanish coast produces wind power en masse. The great powers, on the other hand, have a variety of energy sources, and they produce them all. There's a direct link between energy production, industrialization, modernity and stability.

 

Québec, which is beginning to have serious problems balancing its budget, struggling to pay its teachers and nurses, and rejecting industrial projects for lack of energy, would benefit from a real debate. Not a limiting debate that asks how we can do more with less, but one that asks how we can do much more with more.

 

At a time when Ontario is reviving its nuclear sector and contracting with the West to buy more natural gas, when Alberta and Saskatchewan are breaking production records, Québec risks falling even further behind the rest of the country.

 

The solution is simple: Québec must become a model of energy development in all sectors. This would be a fantastic social project that would allow for incredible economic growth and increased prosperity for all. Not to mention a rapid improvement in public services.

 

One of the pillars of Premier François Legault's commitment to Québec 10 years ago, was the production of natural resources for collective wealth. While the government is going through a stormy period and looking for a mandate, an ambitious energy program could be a cornerstone of such a mandate.

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