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Water Today Title December 13, 2018

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Update 2018/9/29
Politics


QUÉBEC 2018
PARTI LIBERAL DU QUÉBEC, PROTECTION OF PROVINCE'S WATER ANCHORED BY 12-YEAR STRATEGY




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by Cori Marshall

Logo -Parti Liberal du Quebec

The Parti Libéral du Québec (PLQ), except for the eighteen months between September 2012 and April 2014, has been in power since 2003. The party occupies the centre of the provincial political spectrum. The PLQ is also federalist, which sees Québec within Canada with reforms that increase the autonomy of the province.

At the time of the election call, the PLQ held a majority in the Assemblée Nationale with 68 of 125 seats. The party has the luxury of running on the track record of their time in power. On the other hand, the PLQ has many years as government and the austerity felt through cuts in spending at the beginning of this last mandate follows the party.

At the beginning of the campaign, the PLQ was polling second behind the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ), though the latest projections (September 28, 2018) on Qc125.com show that the Québec Liberals are running in a dead heat with the CAQ. Both parties are projected to have approximately 30.8% of the popular vote, and the PLQ could possibly take 49 seats in the Assemblée Nationale.

We had the opportunity to communicate with Maxime Bélanger, Communications Adviser with the PLQ on what the party intends to do with Québec's water and environment.

Bélanger said that the PLQ gives "water and its security the greatest importance." He expressed the party's pride in being the "first government to unveil, on June 17, 2018, the Stratégie québécoise de l'eau 2018-2030 (SQE)."

The strategy takes into consideration "the 16 principles of sustainable development which Qébec has adopted within the Sustainable Development Act." The law revolves around "health and quality of life, prevention, preservation of biodiversity, the protection of the environment, respect for the ability to ecosystem support, participation and commitment, economic efficiency, access knowledge, partnership and cooperation intergovernmental and, finally, the production and responsible consumption.

Bélanger explained that the strategy will be "accompanied by a 5-year action plan with a budget of more than half a billion dollars." He further drew attention to the PLQ's past efforts and the 2014 Règlement sur le prélèvement des eaux et leur protection (RPEP) and the 2017 Loi concernant la conservation des milieux humides et hydriques.

    "It is essential that water be managed properly to protect public health, preserve waterways and protect the environment."

    Maxime Bélanger, Communications Adviser Parti Libéral du Québec


To curb plastic pollution, Bélanger said that the SQE would deploy "an awareness program on single-use plastic water pollution with a budget of $3 million." The Conseil québécois de l'eau will look into plastic related issues.

There have been endeavours to improve the province's response to situations like algal blooms and pesticide contamination. Bélanger said that "the preservation of water, aquatic ecosystems and biodiversity remains a constant challenge." There are programs set up through the Ministère des affaires municipales et Occupation du territoire (MAMOT), "important sums are also dedicated," Bélanger said.

Bélanger said the PLQ has also taken steps "to strictly regulate the exploration, production, and storage of hydrocarbons in water." He underlined that "our lakes and rivers are not open to oil companies."

    "Our priority is and always will be to ensure the health and safety of citizens, while at the same time protecting the environment, including the protection of our blue gold."

    Maxime Bélanger, Communications Adviser Parti Libéral du Québec

On the subject of improving how wastewater and stormwater are dealt with, Bélanger said "source reduction of contaminants in domestic wastewater is a preferred avenue for improving water quality." Québec's water strategy will "continue to upgrade infrastructure, [... and] improvement of wastewater practices throughout the territory."

To that end over $73 million has been allocated "to modernize wastewater management, develop tools to support this modernization and ensure the adoption of better water and wastewater infrastructure design practices," Bélanger said. The PLQ has committed to helping municipalities in adopting and promoting practices in stormwater management and controlling wastewater overflows.

"In short, it is more than $ 60 million that our government has planned to implement the various measures of the action plan so that we can improve the tools for prediction and prevention of risks related to water." - Maxime Bélanger, Communications Adviser Parti Libéral du Québec

In 2017, Québec saw significant spring flooding, in Budget 2018 large sums of money were earmarked to improve resilience. "$2 million in 2018-2019 and a total of $27.6 million over 5 years," Bélanger said, for better mapping of flood zones and land use.

Over the course of the campaign, the PLQ has made announcements in the domain of public transport and should it receive another mandate public transit "will be free for full-time students and seniors, throughout Québec." This will be achieved through a "Mobility Passport, an application and a universal access card, [which] will allow a user to use all of Québec's sustainable transportation services."

The province will have to invest an additional "$200 million a year for free public transit and $5 million for the mobility pass."

Like elsewhere Québec has growing energy needs. "The Politique énergétique 2030 aims to increase the total production of renewable energy by 25%," Bélanger informed us. The party has committed to "increasing investment in [renewables] and supporting research and development to drive innovative technologies."

The Plan directeur en transition, innovation et efficacité énergétiques, which was developed by Transition énergétique Québec (TEQ), requires an investment of "$5.952 billion for the entire period of 2018-2023," Bélanger said.

cori.marshall@watertoday.ca





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