The Canadian French-speaking province of Québec goes to the polls today, but what could this mean for the future of the region’s vibrant cryptocurrency mining economy?
The outcome of the 1 October parliamentary elections could have a significant impact on the future of Bitcoin mining, as the incumbent Liberal government clings on to power by a thread.
The parties in the race are for the 2018 general election include The Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ), Coalition for Quebec’s Future (CAQ), Solidarity Quebec (QS), Quebec Party (PQ) and Green Party of Quebec (PVQ). At this stage, only one party – the Coalition for Quebec’s Future (CAQ) – has a feasible chance of taking power, with Parti Québécois running third; two political bodies at some point expressing a wish to advance blockchain in the province.
The incumbent Liberals have recently applied the brakes when it comes to Bitcoin mining in the state, ordering Hydro Québec, the state-owned electricity supplier, to restrict the sale of power and raise the tariffs of blockchain companies charges. Although the Liberal government has blamed the lack of grid capacity on recent actions, critics are far more cynical, arguing that the government lacks vision and is driving away valuable business which should be boosting Québec’s economy.
“These measures immediately damaged numerous mining operations in Quebec and deterred investors who went elsewhere… The crypto community is really not happy about that,” maintains former Les Affairs columnist François Remy. Francis Pouliot, Montreal cryptocurrency pundit went further, saying in June that “the Québec Bitcoin Eldorado is dead”. Remy sees the two close runners as parties who could lift the industry in the province:
“The (Liberal) government is about to lose the elections, and the other political parties, like Parti Québécois and CAQ seem more opened to blockchain… They want to attract these companies, to support them and use cheap electricity and cold climate as a competitive advantage for the Québec economy.”
Quebec became a mecca for North American companies in late 2017 offering both cheap hydroelectricity and cold weather – crypto mining’s two absolute essentials for a healthy profit. As more companies moved to the region, Hydro-Québec began to report that the demand for power was beginning to impact on the grid due to the surge in crypto mining and the increase in data center construction in the province.
As reported in June by Bitcoin News, this led to a moratorium on new mining in the province which resulted in a 500MW electricity pool being allocated to blockchain customers, which would then be auctioned off, based on tariffs companies would be happy to pay. This remains the status quo until further discussions set for November.
How keen both the CAQ and the Parti Québécois will be to become parties who show a real willingness to advance new technology in the region and tackle such problems, will remain to be seen until after today’s closely-run election.
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