Graham Hughes The Canadian Press Chef Paul St- Pierre Plamondon speaks to Parti Québécois delegates meeting at the National Council, in Bouchervillle, in May 2022.
Activists of the Parti Québécois (PQ) will assess this weekend in congress the possibilities that the party is positioning itself in favor the nationalization of drinking water and the lowering of the minimum voting age to 16.
These proposals will be tabled by the National Youth Committee of the Parti Québécois (CNJPQ) on Saturday. They will then be put to a vote.
At its last congress, held in 2021 in Trois-Rivières, the members of the PQ had adopted a program providing in particular for “considerably increasing the fee payable for the commercial and industrial use of water”. The young PQ proposal goes a little further. The latter will suggest on Saturday “to evaluate the methods which could allow Quebec to proceed with the nationalization of its water”.
“For us, water is such an important resource that we think that it must be part of the reflections on the future of Quebec”, underlined in an interview with Le Devoirthe president of the CNJPQ, Marie-Laurence Desgagnés. “What is clear is that the current royalties are not sufficient in light of the importance that this resource will have in the coming years.
At the moment, the State receives about three million dollars a year from private companies that collect fresh water on Quebec territory. The Minister of the Environment, Benoit Charette, has pledged to “significantly” increase these amounts, but the CNJPQ is questioning this way of doing things.
“Do we have to find a model where the private sector still has its place or is the best way to protect the resource is for the State to assume full leadership on this issue? asked Ms. Desgagnés aloud.
A few hours before the convention, the president of the young PQ “has the impression that there can be an opening” vis-à-vis the proposal. “But I couldn't say if the national executive supports us in this process,” she said.
Lowering the voting age
The CNJPQ has listed five proposals on the agenda for this weekend. One of them also plans to “lower the age for obtaining voter status to 16”.
During her short term as Prime Minister, Pauline Marois indicated that he was “not so dumb” to evaluate the option of voting at 16, but had never gone ahead. The CNJPQ will concretize this “historic position” on Saturday by asking the parliamentary wing to table a bill to this effect.
“We should know that our members [at the CNJPQ] take their card from the age of 16. The fact that we are already witnesses to the extent to which young people, even those who are not 18, are very often engaged, responsible citizens who are capable of assuming political thought,” Marie-Laurence Desgagnés told other end of the line.
The president of the National Youth Committee believes that such a measure could combat “democratic disinterest” among the youngest.
“The young people of 16 to 18 years are for the most part still on the school benches. So, through educational activities, we can promote democratic participation from the first vote. Then, once you've already been to vote, you're more likely to go back,” she noted.
The CNJPQ will also take advantage of Saturday's convention to propose a “national grant program public transport for students”. The party has planned an “announcement” on the budget for year one of a sovereign Quebec.
The PQ convention will be held on a single day, in Sherbrooke, on Saturday.