A broad coalition of public transit experts, environmental groups and trade unions have sounded an alarm bell, pointing to countless problems and anomalies with respect to the light-rail project Réseau électrique métropolitain (REM) put forth by the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ).

Dubbed “Trainsparence”, the coalition calls for a parliamentary committee to be held so that the project as a whole can be fully evaluated. A petition on this matter has been tabled in the National Assembly.

“It’s no surprise that the list of detractors keeps growing on this project. Two weeks ago, two government departments publicly expressed strong reservations about the proposed route and at least six other departments have pointed out serious flaws. This project was conceived by the private sector for the private sector, and is not in the public interest. It does nothing to decrease greenhouse gases; it infringes on protected green spaces; and offers no protection or guarantees to users with respect to fares,” explains Denis Bolduc, spokesperson for Trainsparence and president of SCFP-CUPE Quebec.

Indeed, several departments determined that the impact assessment presented by the CDPQ was non-admissible due to a significant lack of information, notably pertaining to the justification for the project, its urban sprawl, health risks and greenhouse gas emissions.

On this, the first day of public hearings by the BAPE (Quebec’s environmental consultation commission), the coalition calls for a public inquiry to shed more light on the project’s major shortcomings, especially those that stray far from the scope of the BAPE.

“This project is going down the wrong track. Did we learn nothing from the Charbonneau Commission? Massive amounts of public funds are at stake and we must remain vigilant, especially given that we’re already aware of irregularities in the process,” added the Mr. Bolduc.

The coalition members include: Canadian Union of Public Employees, Sierra Club Québec, Sauvons la falaise, Les Amis du Parc Meadowbrook, Sauvons L’Anse-à-l’Orme, Sauvons le parc !, Green Coalition, Citizens Climate Lobby, Regroupement citoyen, Option Transport Durable, Montreal Climate Coaltion, and Transport Électrique Montréal.