Opinion

The Reasons David Heurtel Must Be Dismissed of His Duties.


The Reasons David Heurtel Must Be Dismissed of His Duties.

Several hours ago, Quebecers witnessed an unfortunate event: The city of Montreal has officially proceeded to discharge eight billion litres of wastewater directly into the Saint-Lawrence River. Quebecers are shocked of such an outcome. They are outraged by their helplessness in this matter. It is inconceivable how in 2015 such irreversible acts to our environment may still occur.

I want to tell Quebecers that I understand and furthermore, share their frustration. I am just as puzzled by the catastrophic management demonstrated by the Environment Minister, David Heurtel.

Many things were said since the beginning of this wastewater saga. When the CAQ first heard these news, we decided to research this matter thoroughly. As the environment critic of my political party, it seemed to me unthinkable to literally dump sewage water directly into our Saint-Lawrence River.

After numerous verifications and discussions with regional bodies, it is clear that Environment Minister David Heurtel, is the one to blame for this sad turn of events. He failed his first mandate: To ensure Quebec’s environmental protection.

David Heurtel was made aware of the snow disposal works at Riverside and of the eight billion litre wastewater discharge since April 28, 2014. Eighteen months have passed since he received that formal authorization request from the city of Montreal.

Yet, he has demonstrated an unforgivable lack of transparency by keeping a secret of this magnitude, until the last minute. During 18 months he remained idle and found no mitigation measures that would be more acceptable on the social and environmental spectrums.

Minister Heurtel Is Indifferent Towards Our National Jewel.  

Last February, far from the spotlights, he gave a green light to this discharge, estimating that this matter required the same attention and measures of attenuation as a 100 litre wastewater spill. However, we are talking about 8 billion litres! It is a clear indicator of our Environment Minister’s complete indifference towards our national jewel, the Saint-Lawrence River.

In chambers, I gave David Heurtel an all-around offense. I tried to understand the reasons for which he didn’t publicize the matter, the reasons for which he failed to utilise all the time he had to develop measures of attenuation, and the reasons why he was concealing the studies led by his ministry regarding the environmental impact of the spill.

I questioned the minister about the measures of attenuation he had hoped to set forth. The answer was simple: There were none. David Heurtel made no demand and was unable to find an alternative to the spill. The Montreal engineer syndicate has repeatedly confirmed to me the minister’s indifference. In these 18 months, the minister was unable to find an alternative to a tragedy he had an obligation to avoid. He cowardly surrendered.

As if this wasn’t enough, Quebec found itself derided by the entire world. Due to our minister’s passiveness, the discharge issue extended beyond Montreal’s boundaries and became a national matter. It then became an international shame by making topic of international articles and of famous American activist Erin Brockovich. The minister has harmed Quebec’s reputation internationally. It will take a lot of work to re-establish our image as a sound society that regards the environment as a top priority.

Unfortunately, it is too late now. Quebecers see one of their greatest sources of pride, the Saint-Lawrence River, become a real dump.

Moreover, need I remind that this is not David Heurtel’s first scandal since becoming Minister of Environment?

The Saint-Lawrence beluga episode is still pretty recent. Minister Heurtel has allowed some irregularities while issuing an authorization certificate to TransCanada to drill in a beluga whale calving ground. The Beluga is an endangered species in Cacouna. An investigation report was made to rebuff it. Furthermore, the report on climate changes contains a deep lack of consistency that will never fail to amaze me. The adoption of bill 37, last June, permitting the cement project in Port-Daniel-Gascon, the most polluting project in the modern history of Quebec, is a perfect example.

In light of his track record, I am requesting today, once again, of the Prime Minister of Quebec to dismiss the Minister of Environment of his duties.

Mathieu Lemay, member for Masson and Coalition Avenir Québec’s critic for the environment.