Quebec launches grand plan for the North: Le Nord pour Tous

Plan called a carbon copy of Plan Nord

By JANE GEORGE


The PQ’s “Le Nord pour Tous” reduces the amount of northern lands to be protected by provincial parks from 20 per cent to 12 per cent. (FILE PHOTO)

(Updated and corrected May 9, 1:15 p.m.)

Le Nord pour Tous or, in English, “the North for all” — that’s the name chosen by the Parti Québécois for its version of the previous Liberal government’s Plan Nord.

“We want to develop the North in a responsible manner to maximize the spinoffs for the local communities and all Québécois,” Quebec Premier Pauline Marois said May 7 in Chibougamou.

At $868 million, the PQ plan comes in at about $20 million less for infrastructure than Plan Nord, announced two years ago in Quebec City.

The new plan’s regional northern development fund will divvy out the money for the construction of roads, social housing, provincial parks and training centres.

Le Nord pour Tous plan does not change the number of social housing units to be built in Nunavik until 2016, but it doesn’t increase that number, either.

The plan calls for 226 units to be built until 2016 — a figure that represents the 74 units already built under the Plan Nord promise of 300 new units.

Le Nord pour Tous sets up a new secretariat for northern development under the province’s department of natural resources, mandated to produce a northern development strategy. That will focus on the social development of northern communities, respect for the environment and biodiversity, and economic development, the PQ said.

The secretariat will also offer assistance to northern communities and set up a round table for First Nations and Inuit.

“This will be a chance for all the members of the secretariat to meet local and regional leaders to discuss their vision of northern development,” said Luc Ferland, the MNA for Ungava, who is also the parliamentary assistant to the minister of natural resources.

Liberals called “Le Nord pour Tous” a poor carbon copy of their Plan Nord.

The PQ government adopted the Liberals’ infrastructure announcements point-by-point, “but it’s decreasing the number of affordable housing units for Nunavik thereby penalizing a population with a large need for this assistance,” said Jean D’Amour, the Liberal mining and northern critic.

D’Amour also slammed the PQ plan for backing away from the Liberals’ commitment to protect the 50 per cent of the lands in its North by 2035.

He also noted that since the PQ came into power last September many mining developments have been put on hold and investment in the mining sector is down by $700 million.

“As a result, the official opposition is seriously asking itself how the PQ plans to pay for the infrastructure it’s re-announcing,” D’Amour said.

The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador criticized the lack of consultation leading up to the new plan, with its president, Ghislain Picard, saying “we’re the last ones to know.”

The Canadian Boreal Initiative called the PQ plan a “step backwards” because the government now plans to protect only 12 per cent of the North as parks or protected areas instead of 20 per cent under the Liberals.

The unveiling of “Le Nord pour Tous” follows the May 6 unveiling of the PQ’s new plan to increase the amount of taxes paid by mining companies in Quebec.

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