The City of Quebec will be able to continue its preparatory work to build the tramway, judge Clément Samson of the superior court ruled.
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The decision of about thirty pages in the case which opposes the anti-tramway grouping, Quebec deserves better (QMM), to the Municipality fell Thursday in the middle of the morning.
Judge Samson therefore dismissed QMM's request for a provisional injunction, stating that "the plaintiffs fail in their demonstration of imminent serious and irreparable harm, the balance of convenience and urgency".
According to him, “stopping work on the Quebec tramway would have infinitely greater consequences than the immediate inconveniences specifically set out by the plaintiffs”.
The judge adds that "this criterion of the balance of convenience does not militate in favor of the plaintiffs, the Court cannot for this reason issue a provisional interlocutory injunction".
That said, Clément Samson recognizes that plaintiffs may have a case to defend in court. Under the “appearance of right” test, QMM lawyers “raise issues that can be brought before a court,” he concludes.
As he had done during the pleadings, the judge made a point of recalling that his role is not to judge the relevance of the chosen mode of transport (the tramway), but rather its legality. “The Tribunal has no role in deciding whether or not this is a bad decision made by a government,” he reiterated.
Seeming to contradict one of the main arguments of the plaintiffs, Judge Samson adds this: “It appears that the tramway was the subject of democratic debates during the [municipal] election campaign of 2021. To conclude that democracy is flouted seems to exceed somewhat the reality of things. At the interim interlocutory injunction stage, it would be inappropriate to accept such allegations as true.”
The two parties must meet before the judge on August 29 to determine what happens next. A "management conference" is scheduled for that day to determine the dates during which the case could be argued on the merits.
Project in jeopardy
As the Journal revealed in its Thursday edition, the tramway project office estimates that the slightest delay in the completion of pre-works can “jeopardize” the megaproject valued at nearly $4 billion.
“A halt in activities and preparatory work at this stage of the project and, consequently, a possible halt in the procurement process aimed at selecting private partners Infra [infrastructure] and MR [rolling stock] very likely involves a risk of demobilization definitive for the Quebec tramway project," said the director of the project office, Daniel Genest.
For its part, Quebec deserves better pleads that the tramway project is “illegal” and “unconstitutional” and calls for its immediate stop.
Last week, two lawyers told the Journal that this appeal will be hard to plead.