Quebec announces $1.3-billion Plan Nord revival – by Bertrand Marotte (Globe and Mail – April 8, 2015)

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Montreal — Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard unveiled a scaled-down version of the Plan Nord to tap into the mineral bounty in the remote northern reaches of the province.

Despite a deep slump in global metal prices, the plan calls for the province to invest about $1.3-billion in infrastructure and other projects over the next 5 years in hopes of attracting $22-billion in private-sector investment.

By 2035, the Liberal government anticipates a total of $50-billion in private and public investments, of which at least $2.5-billion will be public money.

The previous Plan Nord, announced by then-premier Jean Charest in 2011, projected $80-billion in investments over a 25-year period.

That ambitious project was shelved by the Parti Québécois government in 2012, but revived by the Couillard government when it returned to power last year.

The new version is an improvement on the previous one in that it includes in the decision-making process the native communities of the region, Fasken Martineau associate and mining-law practitioner Jean Masson said.

There is also a strong commitment to improving social conditions and public services for the Cree and Inuit, he said.

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