Quebec Studies

Quebec's Energy Policies in the 1980s: New Forms of Sectoral Dirigisme

Quebec Studies (1989), 8, (1), 83–96.

Abstract

Québec Studies, No. 8, 1989 QUEBEC'S ENERGY POLICIES IN THE 1980s: NEW FORMS OF SECTORAL DIRIGISME by William F. Aueryt I. Introduction The success of the révolution silencieuse in the social and political spheres also prepared the way for an upsurge in entrepreneurial dynamism in the Quebec economy in the 1980s. ' As Quebec emerged from the general North American recession of the early 1980s, the strength of the new cadres became so evident that the role of the government was already under reconsideration. In the last years of the Parti Québécois regime, government planners envisaged the shrinkage of the state's role from leader of the development process to partner with the private sector, from l'État levier de développement to l'État catalysateur. The arrival of the Liberal government in December 1985 increased the calls for deregulation and privatization. The Quebec Government established a Minister charged with privatization and began to examine the provincial Crown corporations for immediate candidates. The underlying philosophy of the Liberal Government was one of classic market liberalism, although once again it is important to keep in mind that the PQ government had already been advocating a selective withdrawal of the state from the development process. This article will test the basic hypothesis of the withdrawal of the state from the economy by examining a critical sector, the energy sector, and the evolution of the state's energy activities and mission in the 1980s.4 The analysis will seek to discover the limits beyond which the Quebec government probably cannot go in its efforts to leave such a critical sector to market forces. II. Energy in Quebec The energy sector, for Quebec, is a "leading industry" in the Schumpeterian sense: It has revolutionized the Quebec economy, has provided extensive backward and forward linkages for the growth of supplying and user industries, and is strategically important for Quebec in the international market.5 Energy in Quebec is synonymous with hydro power, since the province lacks oil and possesses only small supplies of natural gas which cannot yet be profitably exploited. Canada is the largest hydro power producer in the world,

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Author details

Averyt, William