Taking care not to confirm his appointment as head of Hydro-Québec, François Legault assured him that he had no fear of Michael Sabia’s nationalism.
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“Michael is a Quebecer who loves Quebec very much. When he was deputy minister of finance in Ottawa, every weekend he looked forward to coming back to Montreal,” the prime minister said during a statement in Lanadier on Friday.
Francois Legault, who acknowledged speaking with Mr. Sabia for “an hour and a half” in recent weeks, said he had not confirmed anything about the appointment of a new CEO at Quebec’s largest state-owned company. But he said he took advantage of the meeting to inform Mr. Sabia that his priorities for Quebec are closing the wealth gap with Ontario and halting French decline.
“I liked his answers,” Mr. Legault said.
As head of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec from 2009 to 2020, Mr. Sabia notably launched the Réseau Express Metropolitan project. He served as Director of the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy at the University of Toronto before being appointed Deputy Minister of Finance at Chrystia Freelands’ Department of Finance in Ottawa.
Earlier this week, PQ MP Pascal Bérubé questioned Michael Sabia’s nationalism.
“The Liberals like him a lot, the Cacquists like him a lot. Ontario Michael Sabia has had a distinguished career in the financial sector, but in recent years Hydro-Québec has demonstrated that […] It was not what it used to be. There is change, energy, environmental transformation. I am not convinced that Mr. Sabia has this baggage,” the PQ-elect said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Mr Berube recalled Bernard Drainville’s harsh words about Mr Sabia when he was appointed to the Caisse in 2009.
“I was in government with him, he indicated that there was no point in being there, he was not a nationalist,” said the PQ deputy.
It should be remembered that the Liberals and Solidarity groups also expressed reservations, but in a different order, emphasizing Mr. Sabia’s lack of experience in the energy sector despite his qualities as a manager.