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Le ministre de l’Environnement dit avoir « les coudées franches » au sein du gouvernement Legault

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Un texte d’Anne Marie Lecomte

Benoît Charette, 43 ans, a hérité le 8 janvier dernier du ministère de l’Environnement qui avait d’abord été confié à MarieChantal Chassé dans le gouvernement de François Legault.

Le député de Deux-Montagnes assure que la Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) « a clairement entendu le message ». M. Charette fait ainsi référence aux critiques voulant que la CAQ ait relégué au second plan les questions relatives à l’environnement durant la campagne électorale.

Deux semaines après son élection, François Legault a promis d’en « faire plus pour lutter contre le réchauffement climatique ».

Je me sens les coudées franches pour agir avec la collaboration de mes collègues et faire des changements qui sont souhaitables à ce moment-ci.

Benoît Charette, ministre de l’Environnement du Québec, au micro de Michel C. Auger

Pour un projet, une seule évaluation

Mardi prochain, Benoît Charette rencontrera son homologue du fédéral, Catherine McKenna. Il compte lui formuler « une revendication de longue date » du Québec : obtenir qu’une seule évaluation soit faite lorsqu’un projet comportant des enjeux environnementaux est sur la table. Au terme de cet éventuel processus unique d’évaluation, le Québec veut « un droit décisionnel pour déterminer si un projet peut aller de l’avant ou pas ».

Si cette revendication date, c’est que nombre de prédécesseurs de Benoît Charette ont échoué à obtenir que soit respecté le principe « un projet, une évaluation ». Mais Benoît Charette, qui se dit investi d’un « éternel optimisme », ne doute pas « de l’issue » de ce dossier.

« Je ne dis pas qu’au sortir de la rencontre la décision sera prise, affirme le ministre de l’Environnement, mais c’est réellement un canal de communication que l’on veut entretenir. Et un sujet qui, pour le Québec, est d’une grande importance. »

Il y a des conflits de compétence actuellement qui peuvent être très problématiques pour les promoteurs et, quand je dis promoteurs, ce n’est pas uniquement le privé, ça peut être les municipalités.

Benoît Charette, ministre de l’Environnement du Québec, au micro de Michel C. Auger

Une première prise de contact avec Ottawa

L’attaché de presse du ministre Charette, Jean-Bernard Villemaire, affirme que le projet de loi fédéral C-69 donne au Québec l’occasion d’espérer une meilleure collaboration avec Ottawa pour la « mise en commun » des évaluations environnementales.

Ledit projet de loi a été adopté en deuxième lecture au Sénat en décembre dernier. Son texte stipule que le gouvernement fédéral « est tenu d’offrir de consulter toute instance » et de « coopérer avec elle à l’égard de l’évaluation d’impact du projet ».

La rencontre avec Mme McKenna « est une première prise de contact » pour Benoît Charette, a spécifié M. Villemaire.

Québec et son troisième lien

Au sujet des projets du gouvernement Legault, le nouveau ministre de l’Environnement affirme qu’ils sont ambitieux, notamment en matière de transports collectifs et d’électrification des transports.

Et quand vient le temps de discuter de la construction d’un troisième lien entre Québec et Lévis, projet qu’appuie le gouvernement caquiste, Benoît Charette dit détenir un « petit avantage » : « Jusqu’à il n’y a pas si longtemps, soit avant les élections, j’étais porte-parole de la CAQ en matière de transport. Je travaillais à élaborer un plan global de décongestion pour la région de Montréal, mais également du côté de Québec ».

Il y a un problème réel à Québec au niveau d’une infrastructure structurante de transport collectif. […] Donc, pour nous, le troisième lien est clairement une option intéressante et non, a priori, il n’y a pas de contradiction. Le défi de l’environnement c’est toujours le défi de l’équilibre.

Benoît Charette, ministre de l’Environnement du Québec, au micro de Michel C. Auger

De poursuivre Benoît Charette : « il y a des projets qui seront acceptés et ils vont générer davantage de gaz à effet de serre ».

« D’un autre côté, ajoute-t-il, il y a des mesures qui, souhaitons-le, seront encore plus importantes. […] Au final, le Québec émettra moins de gaz à effet de serre, ce qui est l’objectif du gouvernement du Québec ».

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Ottawa sets monthly record for total COVID-19 cases with 99 new cases on Friday

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Sixteen days into October, Ottawa has already set the record for most cases of COVID-19 in a single month.

Ottawa Public Health reported 99 new cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa today, and three more deaths linked to novel coronavirus.

Ontario’s Ministry of Health had reported 108 new cases of COVID-19, but there is sometimes a lag in COVID-19 case reporting between Ontario and Ottawa Public Health. On Wednesday, Ontario reported 39 new cases in Ottawa, while Ottawa Public Health reported 45 new cases.

There have been 1,511 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa in October, surpassing the September record of 1,413 new cases.

Since the first case of COVID-19 on March 11, there have been 5,908 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, including 301 deaths.

Across Ontario, there are 712 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. Health Minister Christine Elliott reported 213 new cases in Toronto, 135 in Peel Region and 62 in York Region.

HOSPITALIZATIONS IN OTTAWA

One more person was admitted to an Ottawa hospital with COVID-19 related illnesses on Friday.

Ottawa Public Health reports 47 people are currently in hospital with COVID-19, including eight in the intensive care unit.

ACTIVE CASES OF COVID-19 IN OTTAWA

The number of active cases of COVID-19 increased on Friday.

There are 792 active cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, up from 777 active cases on Thursday.

A total of 4,806 people have recovered after testing positive for COVID-19.

The number of active cases is the number of total laboratory-confirmed cases minus the numbers of resolved cases and deaths. A case is considered resolved 14 days after known symptom onset or positive test result.

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Ottawa mayor rejects possible return of Ottawa-Gatineau border checkpoints, ‘I really don’t think they work’

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Mayor Jim Watson does not want to see police checkpoints return to the five interprovincial crossings between Ottawa and Gatineau, saying “I really don’t think they work.”

Earlier this week, Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin told the Ottawa Citizen that police checkpoints could return to the Ottawa-Gatineau border at “any time,” with the final decision in the hands of the Quebec Government. Earlier this month, Dr. Brigitte Pinard of the Centre Integre de sante et de services sociaux de l’Outaouais said border checkpoints were “possible,” adding “right now, our message is to limit large gatherings.”

When asked by CTV Morning Live host Leslie Roberts about the possibility of police checkpoints returning to the Ontario-Quebec border, Watson said he did not think they worked back in the spring.

“There were so many gaps when the police were not there, and people just figured out I’ll go at an earlier time or a later time. We saw police officers sticking their heads in the car with no masks, so that was not healthy for those individuals,” said Watson Friday morning.

“It’s a costly expense when our police are stretched already to the limit trying to do the work, to have them set up at five different bridge points potentially 24 hours a day would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars every month and I think the money is better spent.”

On April 1, Gatineau Police and the Surete du Quebec set up checkpoints along the Ottawa-Gatineau border to limit non-essential trips into Gatineau. Gatineau Police estimated the random police checkpoints between April 1 and May 17 cost the service more than $400,000.

Mayor Watson tells CTV Morning Live that the Quebec Government’s decision to move Gatineau into the “red zone” two days after Ontario moved Ottawa to a modified Stage 2 should help.

“We are a close relationship and when things happen in Gatineau there’s often a trickle effect over here and I think the fact that we’re both in the red zone, and Quebec of course is the worst hit province, at least levels the playing field for our restaurants and bars,” said Watson.

“I think in the past what had happened was our restaurants and bars would close and then the ones in Gatineau would stay open, and then people from Ottawa would go over there irresponsibly, in my opinion, and then come back potentially with the virus and spread it here.”

While border checkpoints would limit the non-essential travel across the Ottawa-Gatineau border, Watson says that’s not the way to beat COVID-19.

“The message is very clear, stick to your household. This is not the time to have an AirBNB party or a keg party in your backyard, or have 20 people or 30 people in for an engagement party. I know a lot of these get-togethers are important socially for people and emotionally, but we have to ask people to be reasonable and responsible, and this is not the year to do those kinds of things.”

Roberts asked the mayor if he would have a conversation about border checkpoints with Gatineau’s mayor.

“I had it the first go-around, but at the end of the day I also respect their jurisdiction and their autonomy. It is the province that would have to impose that, not the municipality,” said Watson.

“From our perspective, we don’t think it’s an effective use of resources. We want to continue to get the message across that we can win this battle against COVID-19 if we socially distance, we wear a mask, we actually follow the simple rules that are put forward.”

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Ottawa woman breaks 14-day quarantine rule to work at long-term care home: police

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OTTAWA — A 53-year-old Ottawa woman is facing charges under the federal Quarantine Act after Ottawa police say she failed to self-isolate for 14 days after travelling abroad and returned to work at a long-term care home.

Ottawa Police say information was received indicating that an Ottawa woman had travelled abroad. She returned to Canada on Sept. 26, so she was required under federal law to quarantine for 14 days, until Oct. 9

“The woman decided not to respect this order and went to work on Sept. 30 at a long-term health facility in Ottawa,” police said in a news release. “When management was apprised of the situation, she was immediately sent home. The facility immediately activated mitigating self-isolation and cleaning protocols and informed all persons that had been in contact with the subject.”

Police say none of the residents of the long-term care facility have tested positive for COVID-19 as a result of the woman attending work.

Ottawa police say this is the first person they have charged under the Quarantine Act during the pandemic.

The woman is charged with failing to comply with entry condition under section 58 of the Quarantine Act and cause risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm under section 67 of the Quarantine Act.

The maximum penalty for causing risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm is a $1 million fine and three years in prison. For failing to self-isolate for 14 days, she faces a $750,000 fine and up to six months in jail.

Police did not release the name of the woman, nor where she worked. The woman is due in court on Nov. 24.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson’s office issued a statement following the announcement of the charges.

“Mayor Watson was disturbed to learn about the alleged carelessness of the individual in question. This type of reckless behaviour could have harmed their colleagues, and more importantly, the residents of the long term care home. We must all do our part to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”

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