Quebec tram: a hot potato for the Caisse?

When it comes to transport projects, the government of François Legault is not really easy to follow.

After the “crazy” path of the third link Quebec-Lévis, which François Legault had promised during the election campaign, he left aside once elected and … resurrected against all expectations after the recent defeat of the CAQ during the by-elections a Jean-Talon, this time the leader of the CAQ launches into the adventure of the future transport network of the city of Quebec.

To do this, the Prime Minister dismissed Mayor Bruno Marchand of Quebec who had recently decided to take over the development of the famous streetcar project.

To hell with Mayor Marchand’s streetcar project, François Legault asked the Caisse de dépôt et placement to present him with “the” best structuring transportation network project for Quebec City.

The CEO of the Caisse, Charles Émond, together with his experts from the subsidiary REM-Infra, has six months to present to the Legault government the transport project that seems most favorable for the Old Capital.

This suggests that Mr. Legault has great confidence in the Caisse’s experience in public transport. And the technical problems that REM has encountered since its launch are of no concern to him.

Cursed! Can the Prime Minister explain to us at this time why he took the East Montreal REM project out of the hands of Charles Émond and his REM-Infra experts and took it over through the Ministry of Transport ?

What inconsistency on the part of the Legault government! The Montreal East REM project does not suit the government to the point that the aforementioned project is withdrawn, but the same government considers the Caisse competent enough to present a supposedly structuring transport project for the city of Quebec.

Calls for tenders

Between a transport project developed under the influence of the city of Quebec and its dynamic mayor Bruno Marchand and a project developed by the subsidiary of the Caisse REM-Infra, the one of the Quebec City Council seems to me more suitable financially.

If only at the level of the tenders that will be held for rolling stock and infrastructure construction. With the City, we would be sure to see all the big global companies submitting bids, each believing they had a real chance of winning contracts.

With the Caisse as the promoter of the new transportation project of the Old Capital, the companies could give up offering their services. for what Because the Caisse is the same main shareholder of two of the large companies specializing in public transport, namely the multinational Alstom (owner of Bombardier Transport) and AtkinsRéalis (SNC-Lavalin).

As luck would have it, it’s these two big companies that got the main REM contracts and are also responsible for running REM on a day-to-day basis today.

Why the fund…

Having a public transport project carried out by the Caisse, as is the case with the REM, gives the impression that it costs less for the State. Know that this is not the case.

One, the money that the Caisse invested in the REM came from our savings (QPP, State employee retirement plans, etc.) and from the State’s coffers (Generations Fund, Ministry of Finance, etc.).

Second, the money that both governments injected into REM came from our taxes.

Three, the 8% annual return that the Caisse will achieve with the REM will come from the financial contribution that the Quebec government (with our taxes) and the municipalities (with our taxes) will have to make annually to “make it profitable” the REM of the Fund!

Not the role of the Fund

I insist and sign: the Fund’s mission is to grow the $420 billion in net assets in our nest egg.

That he invests massively in companies specializing in public transport infrastructure around the world…obviously that’s part of his mandate as an investor.

But it is not their role to play the role of builders of public transport infrastructure and even less to manage them on a daily basis as owners.