A meeting between Legault and environmental groups | “We had no great environmental champion before us”

(Quebec) Environmental groups have made no significant gains or progress from their first formal meeting with Prime Minister François Legault late Wednesday afternoon at his office in Quebec.

Patrice Bergeron
Canadian Press

Greenpeace’s Patrick Bonin summarized at the end of this meeting, which was also attended by nine other representatives from environmental organizations.

Sarah Mungo-Birkett photo, press archives

Chair of the Climate and Energy Campaign at Greenpeace Canada. Patrick Boonen

They hoped for stronger commitments and clear additional measures to reduce pollution and transition to carbon neutrality.

Environmental groups have called this meeting since Caquist’s mandate began in 2018, but it didn’t materialize until Wednesday.

“It leaves us a bit hungry because we have the impression that a discussion should have happened three years ago,” Mr. Bonin said, in an interview with The Canadian Press.

While the Greenpeace spokesperson acknowledged that the government is “going along”, he regrets that the Caquista government continues to prioritize the economy over the environment.

During the meeting, the topic of regional planning policy, finance and public transportation, biodiversity protection, the climate crisis, and the importance of adding new measures to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions were discussed.

“There was an elephant in the room,” said Mr. Bonin: the costly Quebec-Levis tunnel project, which environmental groups are killing.

In short, concluding on a positive note, Mr. Bonin said the Prime Minister had been “listening” and “open-minded”. He concluded that there is a “clear desire to cooperate”, even if there is no “love at first sight”.

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He concluded by saying that with less than a year before the elections, environmentalists hope that they will not have been called out of the “pre-election interest” but will be translated into stronger electoral commitments to tackle the climate crisis.

Besides Mr. Boonen, this meeting was attended by Alain Branchod, from the Society for Nature and Parks (SNAP Quebec), Alice Anne Simard, from Nature-Quebec, Christian Savard, from Vivre en Ville, Colleen Thorpe, from Équiterre, Geneviève Paul, from Center Quebec de l’Environment, Karel Menard, from the Quebec Joint Front for the Environmental Management of Waste, Leila Qebti, from COPTICOM, Marc’s office, from the National Group of Regional Environmental Councils, and Saba Khan, from the David Suzuki Foundation.

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