Fresh Takes

Blue Basket or Money Pit?

Last year, the Quebec government was peddling the idea of a home-grown Amazon that would come to the rescue of local businesses having a hard time due to the restrictions introduced by that same government. After several weeks, and even months, of deliberation, the idea for the “Panier Bleu”—French for “blue basket”—was launched.

Most people, myself included, were expecting a transactional website where consumers would be able to shop for Quebec products. After all, when the government announced this past September an additional $3.1 million of spending for this project, wasn’t a transactional site the least one could have hoped for?

Despite these expectations, the project instead turned out to be a dusty, outdated version of the Yellow Pages. It’s an inventory of products not only from SMEs, but also from Subway, IGA, and company, and it’s basically just a virtual store window that doesn’t allow visitors to make purchases directly on the site. Wasn’t the big idea to compete with Amazon? Indeed, the organization is still trumpeting this on their own website. Maybe someone should actually visit Amazon’s site?

Having had a locked-down Christmas to sober up after this news, I thought this costly saga paid for by Quebec families was ancient history. No such luck! The Quebec government is at it again, intent on turning it into a transactional site after all, several millions of dollars out the window later. This time, another $900,000 is being devoted to making it a transactional site.

After this whole fiasco, could it be any more obvious that we need to require a little more accountability from our politicians? Public funds should be managed much more stringently and efficiently. At the very least, it should be acknowledged that the Quebec government is not computer savvy, and should stick to its core responsibilities.

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