October 17, 2021

La Ronge Northerner

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REM | At least 40 secret agreements have been signed

CDPQ has made at least 40 secret agreements with cities, public organizations and even federal ministers since 2015 on the Infra REM file. Press. A practice that is in no way intended to silence critics of the project, promises the committee, which some experts suspect.


Maxim Bergeron

Maxim Bergeron
Press

A subsidiary of Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec sent us a comprehensive list of the signatories to these agreements following access to the information agreement. CDPQ Infra refused to provide us with the content of the letters.

Federal finance and transport ministers have signed confidential agreements on the Metropolitan Express Network (REM) file in a dozen cities and metropolitan areas, including Montreal, Laval and Languev. Health centers, including the central hospital staff DL University de Montreal (CHUM), have also donated themselves to the gym.

Harwood Citillion, vice president of corporate affairs, development and strategy, said CDPQ Infra would make “zero compromises” to protect “privileged information” that would affect certain aspects of its automated rail program.

The secret sought by CDPQ Infra has two specific purposes, he explains. First, during the planning phase of the project, avoid ground speculation along the way and then secure information about the technical specifications used to make the public tender.

Photo courtesy of Patrick Sanfon, Press

Harwood Citillian, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Development and Strategy at CDPQ Infra

Harrod Sittilian points out that the signatories of the contracts, such as the mayor of Mercier-Hocelaka-Mysonov, have been able to report their complaints about REM without any problems in recent months.

“We get the reviews and feedback we get very easily,” he said, adding that “CDPQ Infra did not end it at any time”.

“Lack of transparency”

REM, a $ 7 billion project, will cover 67 kilometers of railroads and 26 stations between Montreal’s south coast, downtown, the island’s west, airport and northern suburbs. East REM – Phase II of the network – provides a route of 32 km and 23 stations towards the eastern tip and northeast of the island.

Quebec has mandated the design, financing and subsequent operation of these two networks of CDPQ Infra, which will generate revenue for the benefit of Quebec savers.

If the panel believes it exemplifies exemplary transparency, Daniel Pilate, an associate professor at the University of Quebec (UQAM) in Montreal who specializes in the administration of regional institutions and municipal administration, analyzes things differently.

“I was aware of the start of the project in 2016, and already in 2016, with the city of Chaise Montreal not obvious among others,” he says. The information was already disappointing. ”

MMe Pilot believes CDP Infra has a “kind of web” by concluding dozens of secret deals with its partners. “It keeps REM’s business model in a certain opacity,” he believes.

Gerard Butt, a professor of urban planning at the University of Montreal, considers it “extremely unusual” to see the scale of confidentiality agreements. He condemns the “opacity” of CDPQ Infra.

Sample issued by CDPQ INFRA

Model of the station of the future REM in the East

Mayors include

The city of Montreal has been confirmed to have signed two agreements in 2016 and 2020. “These agreements contain unexplained clauses on all aspects of the plans,” spokesman Hugo Borgoin said. All employees assigned to the specified projects are covered by these contracts. ”

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Press Spoke with the mayors of three cities in the West Island — Kirkland, Point-Claire and Saint-on-de-Bellevue — all signed secret agreements.

Although they have some reservations about REM, construction is in full swing these days, and these elected officials are generally satisfied with the arrival of the Light Rail in the West. They all say that they understand and respect the reasons why CDPQ Infra demanded secrecy in certain aspects of the project.

Apparently, the first intuition: Why? Is it ethical to do so? There is a line that cannot be crossed, but minimal confidentiality may be required.

Paola Hawa, mayor of Saint-on-de-Bellevue

At the Metropolitan Regional Transport Authority (ARTM), spokesman Simon Sarbonno pointed out that the signing of an agreement “by any means” prevents the publication of a public statement in the REM. “This is a routine practice between public bodies. Its well-being and purpose should be part of the common purpose of sound and equitable management while prioritizing the common good.”

Philip Terry of the Society de Transport de Montreal (SDM) notes that the agreements signed with CCTPU Infra are not an “extraordinary circumstance”. However, he could not comment on them as they belong to a third party [CDPQ Infra] Who must first acknowledge their expression. ”

Gays subsidiary has also signed a series of confidential agreements with private companies. “He did not provide a list of documents because they contain confidential and strategic information,” said a spokesman, Emmanuel Rulerd-More.