Analysis | The City of Quebec loses the new Cabinet of François Legault

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Analysis | The City of Quebec loses the new Cabinet of François Legault

Geneviève Guilbault, Jonatan Julien and Éric Caire have been appointed ministers.

Mayor Marchand will have to deal with the same ministers and the same caucus in the region. The tram is in no better shape.

The day after the election of October 3, when asked who will be the best ally of the mayor of Quebec around the future table of the Council of Ministers to defend the tramway project, Bruno Marchand replied that it was the prime minister. In light of the Cabinet unveiled on Thursday, the mayor couldn't have said it better.

In his choices for the region, François Legault did not give the signal that the tone will change in the tram file. These are the same ministers, Geneviève Guilbault, Jonatan Julien and Éric Caire who will be seated around the table.

Their lack of enthusiasm for the project has repeatedly made headlines over the past four years. Thursday, they were all behind the project. What will happen when the new invoice is unveiled?

The new Minister of Transport, Geneviève Guilbault

During her first press briefing as the new Minister of Transport, Geneviève Guilbault did not fail to pass the buck to Mayor Marchand when it came to the anticipated cost overruns for the tramway.

On behalf of municipal autonomy, which Mayor Marchand clamored for in the spring during the shared streets debate, she said it was the mayor's responsibility to find solutions and that She would discuss it with him when the time came.

The mayor of Quebec will have to be persuasive.

What will complicate Mayor Marchand's task is the power that the new Minister of Transport will exercise over the project. As minister responsible for the region, she had the power to influence the Council of Ministers, but the last word went to her predecessor, François Bonnardel. The tramway is now in his portfolio.

The appointment of Mr. Bonnardel, in 2018, was also well received by Mayor Régis Labeaume. He welcomed the fact that the minister came from outside the Quebec region. He saw it as a less partisan appointment to defend the tramway project. Mr. Bonnardel had subsequently become an important ally in the progress of the project.

François Bonnardel during a press conference on October 23, 2020

It's just the opposite with Ms. Guilbault. The current never seems to have passed. However, by removing Jonathan Julien and Éric Caire from responsibility for the region four years ago, Mr. Legault had chosen to establish a kind of truce with the then mayor of Quebec.

Ms. Guilbault's choice heralded better days. The signal was clear. But the hopes were short-lived. This time, François Legault keeps the same trio, despite the tensions. Mr. Marchand appears more isolated.

In the case of the third link, Mayor Marchand has already unveiled his game. He will bet on the fact that Ms. Guilbault is Minister of Transport and Sustainable Mobility. He could not help recalling indirectly that the Quebec-Lévis tunnel does not meet environmental criteria. If the minister refuses to see the obvious, she will be an 80s transport minister.

Behind the good words and the usual congratulations, the mayor of Quebec has not changed his tune. It opens the door to further skirmishes with the minister. Ms. Guilbault recognizes the communication challenge to ensure buy-in to the project. She seems unwavering about her achievement.

The good news for the mayor of Quebec is perhaps the good knowledge of the municipal apparatus of the new minister responsible for the Capitale-Nationale, Jonatan Julian. This is what the mayor wanted to emphasize. But can he count him as a potential ally?

Jonatan Julien is the new minister responsible for the Capitale-Nationale region, a role that Geneviève Guilbault wanted to divest.

After being in favor of the tramway when he sat alongside Régis Labeaume as vice-president of the executive committee, Jonatan Julien's support for the project seems to have crumbled since his arrival at the CAQ. The first statements will set the tone.

Will the minister responsible use his title to defend the projects of the City of Quebec within the Council of Ministers? If we rely on the mandate of her predecessor, the temptation could be great to impose the Cabinet's choices on the City of Quebec, particularly in the matter of the third link.

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