Coup de Théâtre Thursday at the Hotel de Ville in Quebec. After speaking very harsh words against the Marchand administration over the past few days, Quebec City’s official opposition voted in favor of the first three budget documents.
• Also Read: According to Villeneuve, Marchand is ‘running away’ from the tramway project
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• Also Read: Votes on 2023 budget: “feast of idiots” according to Claude Villeneuve
“We’re comfortable supporting the budget today,” said Quebec First head Claude Villeneuve to a surprise Thursday afternoon at the start of an extraordinary meeting of the municipal council.
The head of Quebec first explained that his choice was prompted by a promise to hold a committee of the whole this winter on the subject of the tramway. Also, he said, the details and explanations given by the mayor’s team in the last few hours about various municipal projects led to the balance.
Mr. Villeneuve’s tone was different from the one he had used since the beginning of the week. He thus preemptively qualified Thursday’s vote as an “idiot’s feast”. He also said he no longer trusted Mayor Marchand, whom he accused of “running away” from the tramway project.
Is he afraid of losing his credibility or being called a weather vane? Mr. Villeneuve admitted there was a “political cost” to every decision, but said to consider his words in the final days.
Between Wednesday evening and Thursday’s vote, discussions took place between the Quebec cabinet and the mayor, he argued. These exchanges allowed him to get assurances that the mayor really wanted to operate the tramway, he insisted.
Reiterating his support for the tramway, Mr. Villeneuve warned that his team will now carefully discuss every detail discussed about the megaproject and will no longer take the support of Quebec City advisers for granted.
Cautious in his comments, Mayor Marchand did not want to show. He reiterated that the adoption of the 2023 budget is good news for Quebec citizens, as tax increases are limited to 2.5% in the face of inflation. He also welcomed the vote for a budgetary reserve to fight climate change.
Asked to specify the concessions originally granted to Quebec, Bruno Marchand argued that budget negotiations with opponents begin several months before the budget. He denies the existence of piecemeal bargaining.
Along with the 2023 budget, the ten-year Capital Works Program (PDI) 2023-2032 was voted in despite the opposition of two councilors from the Équipe Priorite Québec (EPQ, Quebec’s former name 21).
A third vote on budget documents related to the streetcar was also won comfortably by the Marchand administration. Only four councilors – two from the EPQ and two independents Jean-Francois Gosselin and Bianca Dassault – rejected it.
What they said
- “A budget like many months and many people (…) trying to find the best compromise to build this city”, Bruno Marchand, mayor of Quebec.
- “This is the moment we feel we have regained our freedom from the tramway. Before, we were for the project. We asked no questions and we systematically voted in favor of each summary. From today, every detail about the tram must be discussed”, Claude Villeneuve, head of Quebec.
- “This is the budget that will cost Quebec City taxpayers more than municipal mergers. It will cost a lot,” said Patrick Paquette, leader of the Priority Quebec team.
- “We’re positive. We’re constructive. We put in a lot. I did what my kids do at Christmas with the Canadian Tire catalog, then Toys R Us. », Bianca Dussault, independent municipal councillor.
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Bernard Drainville, New Education commentator