Cement Association of Canada said Quebec-backed project shouldn't bypass federal regulations
OTTAWA—A national industry association is urging Ottawa not to give any special treatment to a Quebec cement plant backed by the provincial government.
The Cement Association of Canada (CAC) said it is encouraging a trio of federal cabinet ministers not to allow the $1-billion plant in the Gaspe region to bypass government regulations, including those covering environment and habitat protection.
The association takes issue with reports that the proposed project in Port-Daniel-Gascons, Que., includes the construction of a marine terminal in an area it says “is known to support a commercial lobster fishery.”
“Under federal law, any work, undertaking or activity that results in serious harm to fish or other aquatic species that are part of a commercial fishery must obtain a formal authorization under the Fisheries Act,” a statement from the CAC reads.
The association also notes that any proposed work that could interfere with navigation must be reviewed and approved by the federal transportation minister under the Navigable Waters Protection Act.
“We urge (Fisheries Minister Gail Shea) and (Transport Minister Lisa Raitt) to make sure that all appropriate actions are taken to protect the lobster fishery industry and the navigation in the area,” CAC president and chief executive Michael McSweeney said in the statement.
“We also call on (Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq) to ensure that a proper process will be undertaken to assess whether the project should be subject to a federal environmental assessment.”
The association’s concern over the potential environmental implications posed by the plant comes after it “repeatedly expressed extreme concern” that public funding for the project “unlevels the playing field for Quebec cement manufacturers from a financial perspective.”
“The investment of public funds in the proposed project, which has been seen by many as being politically motivated, also takes place at a time when Quebec’s cement producers have been running at just 60 per cent of their annual production capacity for several years, a situation which is expected to continue into the next decade,” the CAC statement continues.
Announced Jan. 31, the project would see the Quebec government and two provincial agencies team with Bombardier Inc.’s founding family to invest $1-billion in the massive project in southeastern Quebec near New Brunswick.
The project is expected to support about 2,300 jobs during the construction phase and hundreds of jobs during operation.
“This is an issue of responsibility and fair play for our Quebec members, who are extremely committed to sustainable manufacturing and who pride themselves on meeting and exceeding the environmental requirements established at the federal and provincial levels,” McSweeney said.
“Gaspesians have the same rights to be protected from potential environmental damage from large industrial projects as anyone else in the country, and their health is as important.”