Legault defends its decision not to refund overpayments of Hydro-Québec
The prime minister François Legault, has hinted on Wednesday that the Québécois do not place a priority on the repayment of overpayments of Hydro-Québec.
Anyway, he argues, they will benefit from the reduction of the school tax and the increase in tax credits for families. These two measures together account for $ 1.5 billion per year.
In addition, his government will ensure that tariffs for hydro-electricity will not exceed inflation.
“That’s what the people want,” he ruled Wednesday, in a media scrum where he reacted to the signing by some 24 000 people to a new petition demanding the refund of the entire overpayment of Hydro-Québec.
“Their wages do not increase more than inflation, so electricity prices should not increase more than inflation,” he insisted.
When it forms the second opposition group in the national Assembly, the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) has calculated that approximately $ 1.5 billion in overpayments had been hijacked since 2008, and that this money was to be returned to Quebec.
The issue had become a true battle horse for the CAQ, which returned to the charge day after day in the Room to ask the minister responsible to repay the Québécois.
Mr. Legault had qualified as overpayment of Hydro-Québec to tax in disguise and backstab, while his spokesperson on energy, Chantal Soucy, concluded that “the time has come, therefore, to repay the Québécois”.
It had even filed a petition of nearly 50,000 names demanding such a refund.
According to Hydro-Quebec, the sum of $ 1.5 billion represents the difference between the return authorized by the Régie de l’énergie and the actual performance.
On Wednesday, Mr. Legault recalled that he had never engaged in election campaign to repay the overpayment.
When asked whether he understood, however, the disappointment of Québécois who believed that the CAQ would do it, he has invited the media to do their jobs better and to tell “the truth”.
“It would require you to tell them the truth, you should tell them that we (…) we said it was to repay $ 1.5 billion by reducing school taxes by increasing the tax credits for the second and third child.
“I am surprised that it is not clear to you. I invite you, if necessary, tomorrow I will bring you the financial framework”, he said, in a tone combative.
The issue of overpayments Hydro-Québec haunts Mr. Legault since he came to power, the Journal de Québec have even lifted the veil, Wednesday, about the discomfort that it provokes within the caucus caquiste.
Last week, the prime minister went so far as to praise the merits of the overpayment. “It is necessary that there is an incentive for Hydro-Quebec to bring a gain in efficiency”, he pleaded.
It has justified its position based on the formula developed by the previous liberal government, under which 50% of the overpayment shall be returned to the subscribers and 50 % are used to help the corporation to improve its productivity.
The surplus is given back to Quebec, directly or indirectly, according to him.
Thus, the government will put in its coffers-half of the $ 180 million too many cashed-out by Hydro-Québec in 2018.
Legault “evaluates very badly in public opinion”, according to the PQ
The prime minister does not seem to grasp the grunts of the population – and the embarrassment of its own members – in this folder, according to the Parti québécois (PQ).
“It evaluates it very, very poorly in public opinion, because in two days, 24 000 names on a petition, that is still outstanding, has launched the mp pq Sylvain Gaudreault, in the press briefing, on Wednesday. This is half of what he earned in two months.”
According to him, Mr. Legault “drop the arms” in front of Hydro-Québec, a Crown corporation that should be “monitored” because it is a “state within a state”.
“He has the opportunity to tell Hydro-Quebec : “You’re just a thing to do my man, is to repay the overpayments to consumers in québec”. It’s just that he has to do. There, he is in the process of making us the demonstration that this is not the quebec government that will send its instructions to Hydro-Quebec, Hydro-Québec, which will work by itself in its own logic, and this is unacceptable”, continued the mp.
Moreover, Sylvain Gaudreault sees of an evil eye that Mr. Legault suspects the media not to tell the truth, this approach, according to him, the “fake news of Mr. Trump”.
He recalled that the operation media of the CAQ mounted by Chantal Soucy – the grand theatre, he said – not 80’s, but the well of 2018. “There is not a wall of China between the eve of the outbreak of the campaign (election) and the day of the outbreak.”
According to him, the CAQ has misled Quebecers into believing that the issue of overpayments to him was important. “Vote for me and we will defend it, (…) there is a side there of misleading”, he said.