Sale of St-Hubert: Another Sign of Our Economic Decline

 

 31 March 2016

After Provigo, Alcan, Astral, Cirque du Soleil and Rona, the family company St-Hubert, was next in line to be sold to buyers outside of Quebec. Meanwhile, the Philippe Couillard government sits idly and watches the quiet decline of Quebec’s economy. They have no solid plan of action to put an end to this, regrets the CAQ Leader and member for L’Assomption, François Legault.

The purchase of St-Hubert by Cara, an Ontario company, for 537 million dollars, is yet another sad update for Quebec, which is added to the list of Liberal economic failures, since 2003. Under the Liberal monopoly, Quebec is becoming a branch plant economy rather than an economy of owners.

“The quiet decline of Quebec’s economy continues under the Liberal reign. Slowly but surely, we will lose all of the major gains obtained by Quebec during the Quiet Revolution: The control over our economy. Once again, Prime Minister Philippe Couillard is too little too late, and there seems to be nothing left to do to for St-Hubert to remain the property of Quebec. It is of unspeakable sorrow, that Philippe Couillard has simply no will to defend our corporate head offices”, objected François Legault.

Much like during the sale of Rona, the CAQ Leader expressed his surprise to see how indifferent the Minister of Economy, Dominique Anglade, was on Thursday morning. Unlike her, Mr. Legault is very concerned about maintaining the jobs related directly and indirectly to St-Hubert.

The Budget Is a Hoax

 

 17 March 2016

At the Liberals’ announcement of the new budget, François Legault and François Bonnardel regretted how little was done to alleviate Quebecers’ financial burden.

“The Liberals have taken nearly $750 from every Quebecer, and now they are giving back a tiny $25 gift card. In addition, Quebecers are expected to thank the Liberal government for its generosity. It is quite clearly a hoax. This will not be the year for Quebecers to get financial comfort; nor relief facing an increased cost of living”, explains François Legault.

The CAQ Leader denounces the absence of an economic recovery plan. Scattering the resources does not guarantee economic success. A considerable amount of measures were announced, none of which resolve the most troublesome fact in the budget for 2016: A growth projection of 0% for private investment in companies. Quebec’s economic growth has been anemic since the election of the Liberal party”.

As Quebec’s economy remains persistently weak, dark days are ahead for taxpayers and social programs. Moreover, this budget clearly shows Quebec’s growing dependence on federal transfers. The budget overlooks the fact that a lowered equalization would harm Quebec’s public finances in the upcoming years.

François Bonnardel sees Quebec’s darkest days at the horizon, in matters of healthcare. “A health expense increase of 2.4% is clearly insufficient to tackle our aging population and homecare service needs”, he asserts.

 

Quebec Is Canada’s Bankruptcy Champ

 

 11 March 2016

Quebec recorded nearly 6,000 more bankruptcies and settlements last year than in 2010. This is yet another harmful economic impact of the Liberal monopoly, revealed the CAQ critic for finance and member for Granby, François Bonnardel, on Friday.

The MNA, who urged for immediate tax cuts to be implemented in next week’s budget release, is truly outraged that bankruptcies in Quebec apportion 54% of the Canadian statistic. There is no surprise in this sad observation; Couillard’s Liberals have been refusing, since their election, to table any solid plans for economic recovery, François Bonnardel says regretfully.

“The figures released are appalling: in comparison to 2010, there have been 5,934 more bankruptcies and settlements last year. Meanwhile, there has been a decrease of 16,684 bankruptcies in Ontario, and 13,399 elsewhere in Canada. In 2015 alone, there were 3,770 more personal bankruptcies in Quebec than Ontario, despite the fact that our population is lesser by 5.5 million people. How can the Liberals tolerate to see Quebec in such a frail state? For a party claiming that our economy is their priority, they are failing miserably. We have everything necessary in Quebec to create wealth, and make our people wealthier. We are asking the government to take measures for growth, yet they are acting adversely. It is sad to see our entrepreneurs, in a struggle to build a wealthier Quebec, pay the price for the Liberal lack of ambition”, said the CAQ’s house leader.

Unwarranted Absence

For the second time in a row, Finance Minister Carlos Leitão, refused to answer the call of François Bonnardel to discuss economic matters. Yet, the discussion has clearly been on the program of the National Assembly since last February. The MNA feels that the Finance Minister is evading his parliamentary duty, and is ridiculing the fundamental beliefs of the National Assembly.

“It was clear this week, with Philippe Couillard in chambers, that we are witnessing an increasing arrogance by this government. The Liberals would definitely prefer not to have any opposition, but that isn’t the case in Quebec. The government must account and respond for its actions at the National Assembly. Carlos Leitão’s absence today, for the second time, clearly illustrates the disregard they have for Quebec’s democratic institutions”, spoke out François Bonnardel.

Aveos : Quebec Can’t Withdraw Claim From the Supreme Court

 

 3 March 2016

A legal notice commissioned by the “Association des anciens travailleurs des centres de révision d’Air Canada” (association of the former employees of Air Canada’s overhaul center), states that it is forbidden for the government of Quebec to withdraw the claim, pertaining to Aveos, from the Supreme Court.

François Legault considers that this legal notice reinforces the CAQ’s longstanding claim. “Not only are the employees at right and the government at wrong, discontinuation is prohibited! The 1,800 employees are entitled to expect to get their jobs back, or to be compensated”.

After a press conference by Jean Poirier and the opposition leaders, Philippe Couillard stated that the leaders of the two parties “weren’t totally honest with the former employees”.

“This statement is rather surprising considering that the government omitted information from its citizens, regarding the judicial context in which the agreement with Air Canada and Bombardier was concluded”, wrote Mr. Bruno-Pierre Allard. “Moreover, this allegation is ill-founded, as everything that was mentioned in this press conference related to decisions rendered by a court of appeal.”

“I advise the Prime Minister to relinquish the unsubstantiated statements used by Air Canada. His comments are detrimental to the former employees of Aveos”, concluded François Legault.

The CAQ: A New Agreement for Bombardier

 

 2 March 2016

Following a sad announcement on Wednesday morning that forecasted a loss of 2400 jobs in Quebec, over the next two years at Bombardier, Prime Minister Philippe Couillard finds himself with his back against the wall. According to François Legault, he has no other option but to renegotiate his agreement with Quebec’s crown jewel, in order to secure assets, jobs and for the head office to remain in the province.

During today’s Question Period, François Legault indicated that Bombardier’s announcement is a perfect indicative, that the draft agreement signed by the Liberal government was poorly negotiated. It isn’t too late, specified the CAQ Leader, as the 1.3 billion dollar investment has yet to be disbursed. He urged Philippe Couillard to act immediately for the sake of our economy, but also for the sake of the 2,400 Bombardier employees and their families. Couillard is putting Quebecers’ profits at risk out of raw stubbornness, regretted Mr. Legault.

“Since its announcement, I told the Prime Minister that this draft agreement contained two problems. First, there are no guarantees based on Bombardier’s assets as a whole. Second, there are no guarantees to maintain Bombardier’s jobs and headquarters in Quebec. All political parties at the National Assembly have at heart to help Bombardier, but it is the government’s responsibility to negotiate the best possible agreement for taxpayers and to ensure that our jobs remain in Quebec. The Minister of Transport has realized, last week, that he will have a decision to make on March 31st, if the federal government decides not to invest. The Prime Minister needs to stop playing his broken record; it is not too late to fix his mistake”, insisted François Legault at the blue hall.

The CAQ Leader encourages Philippe Couillard to pick his economic battles. It seems obvious that a 1.3 billion dollar investment in a company that, tit for tat, cuts 2,400 jobs in Quebec, is an alarming sign. “You don’t need to be an expert to realize that something is wrong! The Prime Minister needs to cease his struggle against the exploration project in Anticosti and to take care of Bombardier”, hammered away François Legault.

Legault Will Not Be Taken for a Ride

 

 26 February 2016

François Legault still considers that the agreement with Bombardier needs to be renegotiated.

Bombardier CEO, Alain Bellemare, did not succeed to convince the CAQ Leader that the Couillard government struck a good deal by investing 1.3 billion dollars in the C-Series.

“I still consider that the manner in which Philippe Couillard negotiated this agreement is not beneficial for Quebec’s workers and taxpayers”, he said to the Journal de Montréal.

According to François Legault, Bombardier must commit to maintain its headquarters in Quebec. The company currently employs 17,000 workers locally, and must also guarantee for a minimum level of jobs to remain in the province.

Following this two-hour meeting, TVA has reported that Bombardier are still open to discussions.

Bombardier and Air Canada: The CAQ Demands an Investigation

 

 25 February 2016

Philippe Couillard has self-admittedly been in contact with Air Canada’s president and encouraged him to purchase C Series planes.

He also mentioned that “business people” handled the negotiations, but didn’t say who. Yet, Air Canada is not in the lobbyists registry for either the purchase of C Series planes, nor for the Aveos legal proceedings rivaling the government of Quebec.

As the government admits that the suspension of legal recourse was linked to the aircraft purchase by Air Canada, the CAQ has announced a request to an investigation by the Lobbyists Commissioner, to shed some light on the matters. “It appears abnormal that Air Canada can bargain the drop of a lawsuit in return for a purchase of forty planes without being in the lobbyists’ registry. Especially since there is mention of negotiations with no other than the Prime Minister of Quebec”, explains François Bonnardel.

The CAQ Leader, François Legault, continues to put pressure on the government.

“The Prime Minister is like a small fish swimming with sharks, in the negotiations tank with Bombardier and Air Canada. We thus have a company presided by Daniel Johnson, and controlled by Philippe Couillard and Justin Trudeau. I get shivers down my spine, just thinking about it! The Prime Minister got hustled in negotiations with Bombardier and Air Canada”, he stated.

Recall that last week, by dropping a lawsuit against Air Canada, Prime Minister Couillard has sacrificed 1,800 well-paying jobs in Quebec in exchange for a few hundred hypothetic ones in some-ten years.

This was right after Bombardier announced 2,400 jobs lost. A total of 4,200 jobs have been lost in Quebec in only a week.

Ending Proceedings Against Air Canada: Sheer Incompetence

 

 24 February 2016

For a second day in a row, Philippe Couillard refuses to succumb to the evidence, and to recognize that he is abandoning Aveos workers by ending legal proceedings against Air Canada, claims François Legault.

Former Aveos workers, including union representative Jean Poirier, traveled to Québec on Wednesday, to try and reason with the Prime Minister. The latter has once again refused to get employment guarantees from Air Canada, specifically to keep the 1,800 well-paying aircraft maintenance jobs in Quebec.

“We have a Prime Minister that bows to Air Canada and deems acceptable for the company to disobey the law. Never has a Prime Minister in Quebec negotiated such a sizeable investment so poorly, for his taxpayers, and sacrifice 1800 quality jobs. Since when is Quebecers’ money invested in a company with nothing in return? He suspends all legal proceedings, without any guarantee from Air Canada, but a letter of intent. It is sheer incompetence!” regrets François Legault.

Mr. Legault was adamant about this: Philippe Couillard needs to retract his decision and compel Air Canada to repatriate its 1,800 jobs while respecting its agreement to maintain the C Series units in Montreal. He fails to understand how Philippe Couillard can tolerate for these jobs to be in Minnesota, Singapore, Tel-Aviv and Hong-Kong.

“The Prime Minister can continue to repeat that jobs will not be created through a court process, but what he fails to understand, is that these jobs already exist! They can be ours, here at home, but the Prime Minister is not claiming them, despite the vast sums invested in Air Canada. How can he explain that these hundreds of planes are built and maintained abroad? He lacks both ambition and pride!” concluded François Legault.

Bombardier to Relocate 75 Jobs, the CAQ Reveals

 

 23 February 2016

Worrying information came across on Tuesday: Coalition Avenir Québec’s house leader, François Bonnardel, disclosed that Bombardier will relocate 75 jobs from the Mirabel flight test center to Kansas.

Research led by the CAQ uncovered an agreement made in 2011 between Bombardier and the city of Wichita, Kansas, for an expansion of the aeronautics company’s facilities. The latter has committed to the creation of 450 jobs over five years, in return for the mere subsidy of 30 million dollars. The CAQ Leader considers that the Liberal government, which invested 1.3 billion dollars in the C Series, must renegotiate the terms, and also demand for a minimal employment guarantee from Bombardier, the way Kansas did.

“Since the government decided to play Santa with Bombardier, the company has obliterated 2,400 jobs. However, not everyone in North America negotiates in the same manner. In Kansas, Bombardier committed to the creation of 450 jobs over five years. Today, the company is well above its target, having created over 600 jobs. Meanwhile, the Liberal government has made no targeted demands to create jobs at home! The Minister of Transport can no longer justify the unjustifiable: He needs to renegotiate the terms with Bombardier and maintain the jobs that are left in Quebec, especially the ones in Mirabel”, he stated.

According to testimonials obtained by the CAQ, 75 jobs at the flight test center in Mirabel for the C Series are being transferred to Kansas. “We are a laughing stock, it is as simple as that! On what planet does the Minister of Transport live?” questions François Bonnardel.

Anticosti: The Government Is Drowning in Quicksand.

 

 17 February 2016

It isn’t every day that we see a government rejecting a motion to respect its own contractual obligations. Nonetheless, it is exactly what happened on Wednesday, while numerous Liberal MNAs compromised their own convictions just to save face for their Prime Minister, regretted the member for Saint-Hyacinthe, Chantal Soucy.

The CAQ member deems the situation ever more absurd since only recently, Philippe Couillard stated his clear intention to honour his contract with the oil companies.

“The government is drowning in quicksand. This morning, Marcel Dutil, a longstanding Liberal and owner of an important outfitter in Anticosti, criticised the Prime Minister’s senseless and radical position. Dutil agrees that drilling three wells would not constitute a threat to the territory and environment of the island. All the while, our Prime Minister is breaking his commitment in vain, by refusing to complete the hydrocarbon exploration on Anticosti”, stated Chantal Soucy, instigator of the motion.

David Heurtel, Couillard’s Second in Command?

“Today, it became clear which MNA has the most say in the new Liberal party. I emphasize new, as since last December, the political party is unrecognizable. Recently, many thought that the Environment Minister, David Heurtel, was on the verge of losing his ministry. Yet, what we saw during this afternoon’s vote was that he has become a heavyweight in Philippe Couillard’s cabinet, possibly his right-hand man”, said the MNA astonished, as Mr. Heurtel beamed with uncompromised pride.

The member for Saint-Hyacinthe concluded by reminding that the creation of wealth for Quebec needs to be the number one priority for the Couillard government; not ripping a contract that may create wealth for years to come, after it is signed, sealed and delivered.