Election could imperil Plan Nord – by Lynn Moore (Montreal Gazette – July 31, 2012)

Desjardins Report; Parties differ on scale of economic payback to Quebec taxpayers
The Plan Nord, the Charest administration’s legacy development strategy for Northern Quebec, could be at risk as the province heads for the polls, a Desjardins Capital Markets report says. “Depending on the outcome of the election, Plan Nord stakeholders could face increased uncertainty if another party takes power and/ or a minority government is elected,” says the report made public Monday.
Entitled Plan Nord at the Crossroads, it notes that while all parties appear to support northern development, they differ as to the scale of economic payback to Quebec taxpayers.
The Parti Québécois contends that current royalties are too low. It supports higher mining royalties “and suggests that Quebec could put in place a royalty regime similar to that in Australia – a 30 per cent tax of ‘super profits’ from the extraction of non-renewable natural resources,” the note to clients said.
Coalition Avenir Québec, which also contends Quebecers should be better compensated for natural resources, proposes the creation of a $5-billion fund, to be managed by the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, to invest in extraction companies with all royalties from extraction of non-renewable resources used for debt reduction.
Québec Solidaire, which is trailing in recent polls, proposes a partial or total nationalization of Quebec’s resources.
With great fanfare, Liberal Party leader and Quebec Premier Jean Charest unveiled the Plan Nord in May 2011. With a 25-year timeline, it envisions more than $80 billion in government and private investments to develop an area about twice the size of France.
The Plan Nord anticipates another 3,500 megawatts of energy, mostly from hydroelectricity projects, and at least 11 new mining ventures.
A key component of the plan is the development of a 800-kilometre rail line from Sept Îles north past Schefferville into the Labrador Mining Trough, estimated to cost between $5 billion and $6 billion.
In its budget released in March, Quebec tapped Canadian National Railway Co. and the Caisse de dépôt et placement as the line’s builders and operators.
For the rest of this article, please go to the Montreal Gazette website: http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Election+could+imperil+Plan+Nord/7014613/story.html