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Opposition parties say they are “troubled” by revelations about land purchase and environmental rule changes.

« Nothing embarrassing

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The Ministers of the Economy and the Environment, Pierre Fitzgibbon and Benoit Charette, November 16, 2023 (Archive photo)

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The Legault government does not see problem that Northvolt bought its land 12 times the price paid in 2015 by the owner, with a loan financed 100% by Quebec. Behind the scenes of the record transaction, revealed Wednesday by Radio-Canada, disturbs the opposition parties.

It all smells bad, said Parti Québécois (PQ) MP Joël Arseneau. The more we learn, the more troubled we are. He does not understand why the government finances a purchase of land without evaluating it at its fair value.

Our investigation shows that the Swedish company did not deal with an approved appraiser to estimate the amount to be paid. She relied on the advice of Investissement Québec and a broker to make a first offer of $220 million.

However, the owner Luc Poirier had in hand an assessment of the market value of his land, estimating it at $85 million, in July 2020.

Questioned in the National Assembly, the Minister of the Economy, Innovation and Energy Pierre Fitzgibbon responded that Northvolt had the intellectual capacity to be able to negotiate and that it will [rely] on their judgment.

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In any case, added Mr. Fitzgibbon, the 240 million loaned by Quebec for the land are a very small part, about 3% of the total investment of 7 billion dollars. Environment Minister Benoit Charette was of the same opinion.

He There's nothing embarrassing. This is a very great project for Quebec.

A quote from Benoit Charette, Quebec Minister of the Environment

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The Prime Minister of Quebec, François Legault, during the press conference announcing Northvolt's investment. (Archive photo)

Still on the subject of the battery factory project in Montérégie, Prime Minister François Legault affirmed, for his part, that it is clear that , in the agreement […] the spinoffs, the additional revenues that will flow to the government of Quebec will very significantly exceed the costs.

The agreement between Quebec and Northvolt is not public and that bothers the official opposition.

I think it x27;is a promising project, declared Liberal MP André Albert Morin. But not at any cost, not at any price, and there needs to be transparency.

Our investigation shows that in February 2023, a few days before changing the eligibility criteria for a BAPE exam, the government had discussions with Northvolt management, including a lunch at a restaurant with Pierre Fitzgibbon. The Swedish company had also already submitted a purchase offer on the ground.

Furthermore, the owner of the land Luc Poirier was refused the destruction of wetlands on the site by the Ministry of the Environment in March 2023, in full negotiations with Northvolt for the sale. The Swedish company then lowered its offer by 30%.

It's all a no-brainer, believes Joël Arseneau of the PQ. As for the solidarity MP Ruba Ghazal, she has suspicions that it's arranged with the views guy.

Nothing proves these allegations, and both Northvolt and Minister Fitzgibbon assure that they did not discuss the BAPE during the February meeting.

It looks like we're watching an episode ofBefore the crash. It's incredible […] It's all very fishy. All of this is doubtful.

A quote from Ruba Ghazal, MP for Québec solidaire.

Radio-Canada also learned that the Minister of #x27;Environment Benoit Charette spoke with representatives of Northvolt on May 31, but this meeting does not appear on his agenda.

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