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A cautionary tale about a Minister and the disappearing beluga

Let's travel in time to see what Wikipedia might have to say about the current Quebec minister of the Environment in a few years...

"David Heurtel (born in 1973 in Quebec) has been a Liberal MNA for Viau since December 9, 2013. He has been the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight against Climate Change since April 23, 2014. His time as minister will not go unnoticed because it was under his government that the St. Lawrence River lost its one-of-a-kind beluga whales."

This species is already classified as "Near Threatened." The current government's decision to allow TransCanada to build an oil port by a beluga nursery combined with the multiple oil spills that are likely to follow will surely get the better of the few hundred belugas still present in the St. Lawrence.

You think I exaggerate? Take a few minutes to read the judgement issued by Justice Claudine Roy on the issue of whales and the TransCanada's proposed oil port near Cacouna: "If the Minister could find no answer to his questions, he should have continued the process or at least explained why he suddenly decided to recommend approval based on documents that had been in his possession for several weeks, which, until that point, had provided insufficient information regarding his concerns."

Having read the so-called scientific opinion on which Minister Heurtel claimed not so long ago to have based provincial authorization for the project to proceed, it seems that the minister owes us an explanation. It mentions, among other things, that scientists at Fisheries and Oceans Canada had asked TransCanada for information on the impact of seismic testing, but had yet to receive it. Moreover, these same scientists would have liked to proceed with an exercise modeling the effects of the project on the belugas, but given what is left of regulations on environmental assessment at the federal level, they could not. 

You tell me: Does the Quebec government bear sole responsibility for this mess? Of course not. Maybe we would not be faced with such a mess if the federal government was not bent on destroying environmental laws and regulations. That said, many of us believe that the Quebec government has all the more duty to ensure public safety and environmental protection."

This article by Steven Guilbeault, senior director of Equiterre, originally appeared in French in the Métro newspaper.