|Martine Ouellet, smiling us right into the poor house|
Few articles are written about her and her fantastical energy policies in the English media, but they should.
Martine Ouellet represents one of the biggest threats to Quebec prosperity, with ideas and policies so bizarre that it begs the question as to her mental capacity to understand the most basic principles of public policy.
In her brief tenure as Resource Minister she has single-handedly frightened the resource industry into retraction with her pie in the sky idea of reform which would ramp up the tax the industry pays to the government, while increasing environmental costs, this in the face of declining metal prices.
"Preliminary numbers suggest investments in the sector fell to $3.25 billion from $5.13 billion a year earlier, due largely to lower gold prices and softer demand in China and emerging markets.This coupled with an insane electricity policy that produces more electricity than can be sold, with new projects being created every day, producing more electricity at a higher production cost than mothballed facilities shuttered because of a lack of demand.
In October, the agency forecast a drop of at least 10 per cent in 2013 based on surveys of mining companies completed during the summer." Link
It doesn't take a genius to understand that if you run a doughnut shop and are producing more doughnuts than you can possibly sell, you need to limit production, not increase it.
According to Pauline Marois the electricity surplus is an advantage, but how that is, I don't really understand. It's like saying it's good to have cancer because it provides an opportunity to find a cure.
At any rate, electricity doesn't have a shelf life, you either use it or lose it, at least doughnuts can be frozen.
But the economic lessons that the rest of the world lives by, make no sense to Madame Ouellet, who believes that it is important to bake more doughnuts, because it keeps the bakers employed, regardless of the waste.
The frightening thing about Madame Ouellet and I don't say this lightly, is that she's an idiot, plain and simple. She hasn't the brains for the job.
Think I'm being cruel.
Watch this video of her being destroyed by an incredulous Radio-Canada interviewer who is mocking her over her utter misunderstanding of what a loan is, as opposed to a loan guarantee.
Perhaps someone should have explained to Madame Ouellet in terms that she could understand, so here goes.
Imagine your brother asks you to sign for him at the bank for a car loan because his credit is iffy. Because of your guarantee, your brother benefits from a preferred rate and saves on interest payments.
If he pays back the loan as per the agreement, your guarantee costs you exactly nothing....
Capisce, Madame Ouellet?
It's utterly fantastic that a Cabinet Minister can be so badly misinformed and it leads one to imagine where that lack of sophistication takes us.
This is a minister who has said in the past that there can never be a safe way to extract gas through fracking.
It's the type of attitude that has Quebec on the outside of the gas bonanza that has lifted the United States right out of recession and on the course to energy self-sufficiency.
In fact, American success via fracking has left Hydro-Quebec in the lurch, as the cost of electricity produced by gas produced by fracking is much cheaper than what Quebec is selling.
At any rate Martine Ouellet is once again using her prodigious mental acumen to lead us into another fine mess, this time by way of her unwavering support of alternative energy projects like wind power and co-generation, which remains Quebec's biggest boondoggle.
On the eve of the tabling of a report commissioned by the Quebec government itself which recommends shutting down these costly mistakes, our fair minister has already announced that she will ignore the recommendations, because she knows better.
"Over the past ten years, the situation has radically changed. Electricity demand peaked and then decreased both in Quebec and its export markets .
The price of electricity produced in the United States by power plants fueled by shale gas has dropped dramatically. Nevertheless, Quebec has added significant new ways of generating electricity: wind capacity, mini-plants hydro-power, biomass power plants, in addition to new hydroelectric projects
....The Commission is making a series recommendations, including the following;
That consideration be given without delay to suspend investments in the Romaine-3 and Romaine-4, and stop or suspend supply contracts wind in co-generation and small hydro projects not yet built."....
...."The strategy focused on building new projects (hydroelectric or wind generation, in particular) is ruinous for Quebec." Read the entire report in FrenchYet none of this advice makes any sense to the intrepid minister.
"Minister of Natural Resources, Martine Ouellet, recognized that Quebec is struggling with surplus electricity. "But on the other hand, there are other considerations, such as the 5000 Quebec jobs related to wind power, including 800 in the Gaspé and Lower St. Lawrence. We can not act unilaterally without thinking that there are consequences, "said the minister during a meeting with Le Devoir." LinkNow how much does all this job creation cost Quebec taxpayers?
Quite a lot, in fact between $1.2 an $2 billion dollars a year.
All this for five thousand jobs.
Now I didn't even need to get out my calculator, a reader commenting under the above story laid it all out.
Yup, according to this reader, who did his sums quite correctly, each job created by these 'projects' that produce electricity that we throw away, costs taxpayers between $240,000 to $400,000 per.
And this every single year.
You read that right.
Martine Ouellet thinks it's reasonable to waste all that much money to create these 5,000 jobs producing a product that nobody is buying.
Actually, if she took the cash that the project wastes each year, she could just about pay THE ENTIRE GASPÉ PENINSULA WORKFORCE of about 60,000 workers (10,000 presently unemployed,) the tidy sum of $30,000 per year to dig holes in the ground and then fill them up again.
Madame Ouellet could then boast of having created 100% employment in the region!!
Such is the state of affairs in Quebec, where the media spends all its capital discussing the idiotic Charter of Values, instead of the very real disaster that is the mismanagement of the public purse.
Martine Ouellet is responsible for blowing between $1 billion and $2 billion of public money each year because she doesn't understand basic math or basic economics. She is directly responsible for the rumoured upcoming rate hike at Hydro-Quebec of some 6%, needed to fund all of this.
This is who is running the province, it's sad, but even sadder that nobody cares.