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Gaspsia project a ‘fiasco’


May 9, 2005
By Pulp & Paper Canada

Blurred lines as to where the responsibility lies for the Gaspsia paper mill is eliciting accusations from numerou…

Blurred lines as to where the responsibility lies for the Gaspsia paper mill is eliciting accusations from numerous sides of the political spectrum. A report issued by a retired Superior Court judge points the finger at the haste with which the reopening of the mill was approached, citing a lack of management on the construction site led to the $265 million over budget. The Montreal Gazette recently reported a statement by Robert Lesage, chosen by the Liberal government to investigate the matter, who contends the absence of a responsible owner led to what he terms a ‘fiasco’. The project was initially allotted $493.25 million, money with which the former newsprint plant was to be converted into a high-tech coated-papers mill. The cost skyrocketed, to $765 million, at which point shareholders Tembec, the Quebec Federation of Labour’s Solidarity Fund and the government’s Societ de financement, jumped ship.

The report questions former Parti Quebecois premier Bernard Landry’s role in the rush to seek approval for the plan before the 2003 election. In response, the Liberal government’s economic development minister Claude Bechard is calling on Landry to issue an apology. The PQ is standing firm in its contention that it simply wanted to help the Gasp area, whose economy remains largely dependent on the forestry industry.

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Tembec is taking a more proactive approach. "This report calls for action and involves firstly the government, but also the business sector and the unions," said CEO Frank Dottori. "It is now important to quickly move into gear and start real discussions that will lead to major changes in the framework governing the construction industry."

Source: The Montreal Gazette


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