It’s been interesting to see the media making so much of Daniel Breton’s long and illustrious “criminal” life. You would swear being poor automatically made you a breaker of rules, a natural born cheat who only knows deception and wild behavior. Anyone who has ever attended a public consultation with the BAPE (Bureau d’audiences publique sur l’environment) knows what a useless puppet like organization it has been in it’s hopelessly inadequate and anal retentive recommendations. The BAPE has a noticeable pattern of making a few lightweight “green” recommendations on a project before basically giving way to whatever the developers had wanted in the first place, despite a strong presence of concerned citizens asking for major changes, if not an actual shut down of the project. I have seen Daniel Breton at many such consultations with the BAPE. If there is anyone amongst us who knows that the BAPE needs to change their corporate/political culture and actually start fulfilling their mandate as a public interest organization on environmental issues as they are part and parcel of urban development in Montreal and across Quebec, it is Daniel Breton. But it looks like he got crucified for demanding that they do their on the public dime jobs.
Ethan Cox has written an excellent article.
The political assasination of an honest politician: Daniel Breton resigns as Quebec Environment Minister
by Ethan Cox
I don’t like the PQ much, and I believe their recently released budget was an embarrassing affront to those Quebeckers who naively expected them to actually do the things they promised to do during the campaign. All the more so with a leaderless and election shy Liberal party guaranteeing their minority government the ability to govern as a majority in the near term.
But the carefully manufactured “scandal” which brought down PQ Environment Minister Daniel Breton, who resigned his cabinet post yesterday, is no cause for celebration. Easily lost in a sea of real scandals, and disgraced politicians riding off into the sunset, is the political assassination of a good man for the crime of considering, however fleetingly, a challenge to the status quo.
That his political enemies so easily took down Breton, and that the PQ so happily threw him to the wolves without so much as the pretence of a defence, is a clear message to anyone who would seek office to challenge the way things are: don’t, or you’ll be sorry.
First, the facts. Such as they are. Breton, a co-founder of the Coalition Quebec-Vert-Kyoto and one of this province’s foremost ecologists and environmental activists, beat out Quebec Solidaire star candidate Manon Masse for the seat representing Montreal’s downtown eastside and gay village in September’s election. It was the culmination of a political odyssey which saw him run unsuccessfully for the Green Party and the NDP, before finally joining the PQ.
His subsequent appointment to the Environment portfolio by Premier Pauline Marois was lauded by the progressive community, who saw in the new minister an ally who could be counted upon to restore the integrity and competence of a department which had become some sort of a sad little joke under previous governments.
Quebec has some of the strongest environmental laws on the books in North America, but suffers from a near complete inability to enforce them. A strong minister with the heft to fight for his budget line could therefore get a great deal done without the need to pass legislation through the fractured National Assembly.
Sadly, while activists were popping the bubbly, the corporate interests with most to lose under an activist environment minister were organizing to eliminate the perceived threat. This before Breton had done a single thing of substance. (more…)