Rush into the wall in an electric tank

Every Tuesday, The duty offers a space to the creators of a periodical. This week, we offer you a text published in the magazine Freedomissue 342 (Spring 2024).

Between 2000 and 2021, the number of vehicles on the road increased by 50% in Quebec. As for light trucks intended for driving, including the famous SUVs, there are 184% more of them.

As a result of this excess, in 2020 in Quebec, the transport sector was responsible for nearly 43% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions according to the Ministry of the Environment. How can we reverse this trend which is helping to lead us straight towards an ecological cataclysm likely to make life on earth unbearable?

The cure came in the form of an old technology: the battery. By replacing combustion engines with rechargeable batteries as a mode of propulsion, we have found a way to sit comfortably behind the wheel of our collective blindness. The electric car saves us from having to sacrifice our way of life to better save a handful of tree frogs that urban sprawl has not quite managed to wipe off the map.

Thus, the Quebec government has enthusiastically taken the turn towards the electrification of transportation. That’s good, we are told, Quebec is the kingdom of “clean” electricity.


In November, the CEO of Hydro-Québec, Michael Sabia, affirmed that new dams would be built in the coming years in order to provide the energy effort necessary for the decarbonization of the economy. The only sovereignty that this elite claims is that which consists of appropriating the resources within their reach (and selling them to the highest bidder). The economy is the policy of colonial administrations.

It is with this in mind that the Government of Quebec is supporting the Energy Transition Valley with $8 million “in order to clearly position Quebec and its assets in an emerging market. » The bulk of government support will go directly to private businesses. For example, Ford will receive $644 million from Quebec and Ottawa for its plant in Bécancour.

This scenario repeats itself every time foreign firms do us the honor of coming to set up shop here. Northvolt will be able to count on nearly $7 billion from the federal and provincial governments, but will not be required to submit its megaproject to a BAPE review.


Too bad if groundwater and watercourses are contaminated or populations are displaced. The important thing is to grow GDP. All you need to do is use “green” technologies and that’s it: development becomes sustainable. We comfort ourselves by saying that electric vehicles, when they are on the road, do not emit GHGs. But are they really “ecological”?

Everything indicates no. Their grim record can be explained by the quantity of natural resources required to manufacture electric cars, starting with the minerals necessary to make batteries. These are not only present in limited quantities on the planet, but their extraction generates a large quantity of polluting discharges. It also destroys fragile ecosystems which, unlike the mining industry, cannot count on any public relations firm to come to their defense.

Added to this are all the other materials used in the manufacture of cars as well as the waste produced by their use. This is without taking into account that the replacement of gasoline cars by their electric counterpart is perfectly compatible with deleterious urban sprawl, marked among other things by the concreteization of natural environments and by the growth in the size of consumer goods – including, precisely, that of cars.

What ultimately interests François Legault, Michael Sabia or manufacturers of electric vehicles such as billionaire Elon Musk is not to pollute less, but to produce as much, if not more. The electrification of transport supported with great public funds is only the most recent chapter in the history of unbridled economic development, which always ends up benefiting only a handful of shareholders never responsible for cleaning up the damage that their investments have caused.

The action of the fossil fuel and automobile lobbies certainly contributes to the persistence of the reign of the solo car. Beyond these purely corporate interests, it is also our relationship to space that is vitiated. We do not live in the territory; we consume it, we occupy it by confining nature to its margins. These are the reflexes that it is high time to put aside.

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