Low-carbon investments continued to hold pride of place in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pre-election tour this week, with the PM travelling to Quebec’s Gaspé region Wednesday to announce C$25-million for an expanded wind turbine plant.
The facility will produce 107-metre-long blades destined for markets in the United States and Europe, The Canadian Press reports. The federal government said the units will be the largest in the world.
The project is a joint partnership with the Quebec government and plant owner LM Wind Power, a Danish subsidiary of General Electric.
“We have the skills, expertise, and resources here in Canada to be leaders in clean technologies,” Trudeau told a gathering at the plant in Gaspé, about 700 kilometres northeast of Quebec City, alongside Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne and local MP and federal Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier. “Our government will continue to take real actions to develop our industrial advantage when it comes to renewable energy.”
Trudeau repeatedly cited the turbine plant as an example of how the need to fight climate change can lead to the creation of high-paying, green energy jobs.
Wednesday’s announcement also gave him an opportunity to visit a riding that could be hotly contested in an eventual election.
Trudeau has refused to confirm whether there will be a fall election, but he has done little to quell the rumours with his recent flurry of travel and spending announcements. With speculation that an election call is weeks away, Trudeau quickly criticized the Conservatives following Wednesday’s funding announcement.
“It’s been six years I’ve been trying to explain to Conservatives—who refuse to listen but Canadians understand well—that fighting climate change and protecting the environment is the way to secure the jobs of the future,” he said, after rhyming off a list of his government’s recent green energy investments.
The Gaspésie-Les Iles-de-la-Madeleine riding narrowly remained Liberal in the last election, with Lebouthillier defeating her Bloc Québécois rival by fewer than 700 votes. In just over a decade, the mostly rural riding in the east of the province has been held by the Bloc, the NDP, and the Liberals.
Trudeaudenied several times that Wednesday’s announcement was any kind of election preview, and he challenged any opposition leaders skeptical of his motives to go and talk to the workers who would benefit from the investment.
“It’s not an electoral interest, it’s the interest of Canadian workers and the planet,” he said.
The Gaspé expansion will cost some $160 million, for which Ottawa said it would provide “up to $25 million” to create 200 jobs and “maintain approximately 380 additional jobs for Canadian workers.”
Quebec Energy Minister Jonatan Julien, who was also present at the announcement, said the provincial government would provide a loan of $29 million to the project, which he said would bring and maintain much-needed quality jobs to the region.
Trudeau began his day in Percé, where he hosted an economic roundtable discussion and strolled down the town’s picturesque boardwalk for a photo with Lebouthillier, exchanging elbow bumps with curious locals and tourists.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 14, 2021.