By Rita Legault
Former Environment Minister Pierre Paradis still can't understand why the Trans Quebec Maritime Pipeline is passing through his backyard, when a much shorter route exists through Highwater, Vt.
"No one ever explained why that route was excluded," said the longtime MNA for Brome-Missisquoi.
The original route through Highwater would have been 74 kilometres shorter than the chosen 213-kilometres route which will pass through Granby, Waterloo, Magog and East Hereford. About a third of the approved route is located in Paradis's riding.
Paradis had offered to come and testify at recent hearings into the pipeline, but by then the National Energy Board would no longer listen to arguments in favor of alternative routes.
The MNA, who was provincial Environment Minister for four vears, said that as long as the pipeline wasn't built, there should have been time to discuss all potential alternatives. He said the one through Highwater, which would have coincided with a stretch of abandoned pipeline which is being un-earthed, would have had fewer environmental impacts.
The MNA also commented on Hydro Quebec's Des Cantons-Hertel line which bypasses his riding, but which is pillaging huge sectors of virgin territory in the neighboring ridings of Shefford and Johnson.
Paradis points out that if the line had passed through Brome Missisquoi, the regional municipality would have had the power to veto the line. That's thanks to a veto on power lines that was included in the MRC's zoning plan when it was passed by then-Municipal Affairs Minister Pierre Paradis.
"I was proud of the Sutton massif and the Brome-Missisquoi valley and wanted to ensure they would be protected in the long term," he said, explaining why he fought to get the veto over solid objections from Hydro- Quebec.
"Maybe that's why the line does [not] touch this area?" he presumed, adding that Brome-Missisquoi is protected from the unilateral decisions, such as the cabinet decree which usurped the power the Val St. Francois MRC to submit the line to its zoning regulations.
Paradis said he's not impressed with the way the Parti Quebecois has muzzled public debate on the Des Cantons Hertel.
"This is the style of government that rules by decree," he said. "They are antidemocratic and are offering no place or power to negotiate to the people are affected by the line."
Paradis said the fight over the Hydro lines has been completely unbalanced.
"It's Goliath versus David, and David had his two hands tied behind his back."
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