The Minister of the Environment, Benoit Charette, disqualified himself from his position by failing to reveal the excesses of the nickel standard occurring at the Port of Quebec in 2022, according to Québec solidaire.
The member for Jean-Lesage, Sol Zanetti, officially requested his departure on Friday morning, barely a few hours after it was revealed that the CAQ minister had had all the information in hand since at least last April. In the morning, the solidarity elected official said on the social network X that he had “thought a lot since yesterday about the minister’s lie”.
” Enough is enough. There must be consequences,” he wrote.
In a press scrum in front of the Parliament building on Friday, Mr. Zanetti accused Mr. Charette of having “been unworthy of his position” in the nickel file. “Let him push logic to its limits. What he has to do is resign,” he said. “I am not asking a Minister of the Environment to be perfect. I just want the truth, so we can stop being “bullshittered”. »
Barely back from New York, where he participated in the Summit on Climate Ambition, the Minister of the Environment, Benoit Charette, finds himself in hot water for having avoided mentioning these exceedances of the nickel standard during the unveiling results of the sampling campaign on air quality in lower Quebec City at the end of last month.
According to the minutes of a meeting of the Port Activities Vigilance Committee, the Ministry of the Environment, the Fight against Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks had these results on hand since at least April. Two thresholds were exceeded in December 2022, then another in January.
Benoit Charette does not intend to give up his place as minister and asks Sol Zanetti to apologize. “I invite him to raise the debate on this issue,” he wrote on Heel. »
“I am not embarrassed to say: I want, in Jean-Talon, there to be a supportive MP to give us other people in Quebec who are fighting against climate change, who are fighting for air quality” , retorted Mr. Zanetti, who was rightly flanked by the solidarity candidate in Jean-Talon, Olivier Bolduc.
MP Zanetti, who notably represents the voters of Limoilou, where the excesses were observed last year, accuses the CAQ minister of carrying out political recovery himself.
“When he sees that it’s not going away, when he sees that there are still newspaper articles about it, he decides to go on the attack and then accuse us, who have been defending the world for five years of being partisan. It’s “cheap”,” he said.
According to the interim leader of the Liberal Party of Quebec, Marc Tanguay, Benoit Charette would no longer be a minister “if the environment were a priority for François Legault.” “The nickel issue is further proof that the Legault government is unreliable and is incapable of delivering for the people of Quebec,” he said in a written statement sent to the Duty.
Without calling for Mr. Charette’s resignation, the Parti Québécois condemned the minister’s “lack of transparency” on Friday. ” It’s serious. He failed in his responsibilities,” said the PQ leader, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, during a press conference in Quebec. “It doesn’t hold water to say: ‘I put that somewhere on the Internet and I thought it was correct.’ »
Echoes at city hall
The issue of air quality in the lower town came up again at Quebec City Hall on Friday. The official opposition accused Benoit Charette of having committed a “lie by omission” and believes that the minister “is no longer credible” to deal with the matter.
“ [Bruno Marchand] must demand accountability, said Claude Villeneuve, leader of the Quebec First municipal party. I don’t think he should continue to collaborate with the minister on this issue. » Reiterating his confidence in Benoit Charette, he insisted, would amount to becoming “accomplice of [son] camouflage operation. »
Visiting Chibougamau, Mayor Marchand did not wish to react.
Since last year, it has been permitted to release quantities of nickel into the air five times higher than before. The ministry has relaxed its tolerance standard from 14 to 70 nanograms of nickel per cubic meter (ng/m3).
With Sébastien Tanguay