Quebec has been accused of failing to adequately study the risks associated with its battery sector

Despite the influx of billions of dollars of public money into the battery sector, in two years Investissement Québec (IQ) has not produced a significant document on the various risks linked to this strategy dear to the Legault government, which experts denounce.

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“We put everything on one card. “If the batteries are obsolete in five or eight years, what do we do with our factories that have cost us billions?” asks Luc Bernier, a professor at the Higher School of Public Affairs and International Studies at the University of Ottawa.

“The government needs to be more transparent and demanding in its risk assessment. That makes no sense,” says Saidatou Dicko, professor of accounting at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM) and an expert on governance.

ARG PIERRE FITZGIBBON

Saidatou Dicko, governance expert. Photo from UQAM website

A lot of resistance in Quebec

On June 15, 2022, Le Journal requested access to information from the Ministry of Economy, Innovation and Energy (MEIE) for documents from the last two years related to the risks associated with the battery sector.

The MEIE refused to provide them because they contained “essentially information relating to a ministerial recommendation prepared for the Executive Board or related drafts or drafts”.

The Economy Ministry also asked the Journal to contact Investissement Québec (IQ), which in turn refused to forward it.

The Journal appealed this decision in August 2022. A settlement notice was filed a year later.

In an affidavit, Danielle Vivier, director of information access at IQ, pointed out that there was only one document on the risks associated with the battery sector for this two-year period.

Edited study by IQ

This is a 78-page study by Hatch on nickel supply, with several pages redacted. This particularly underlines the importance of securing this raw material in the battery sector, for example with a giant like Vale.

ARG PIERRE FITZGIBBON

Edited study by IQ

In recent days, Le Journal has interviewed IQ, the MEIE and the Office of the Minister of Economy to find out how many studies have been carried out in total on the risks associated with the battery sector. The response came from the company, which pointed out that only one study had been done so far.

The company defends itself

When Le Journal asked the minister’s office whether it was important to know the risks associated with the battery sector at a time when the State of Quebec is pouring billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money into it, the latter replied that this work is already underway be.

“Of course. We assess risks on an ongoing basis. Our teams at MEIE and IQ are on guard,” assured spokesman Mathieu St-Amand.

“The due diligence that is systematically carried out for any financial intervention in the battery sector is rigorous and takes into account all the risks associated with the intervention, be they financial, social or governance risks. We are in the right place,” he concluded.

-In collaboration with Sylvain Larocque

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