Local procurement for major construction sites

Canada and Quebec are “naively” opening their doors to foreign companies to carry out major infrastructure work, as local purchases should be promoted away from food products, according to Marcel Dutel, chairman of the Caname Group.

“If Americans can say buy American, why can’t Canadians say buy Canadian?” asks the founder of the Quebec multinational that specializes in building and infrastructure construction.

In the United States, when the federal government invests in repairing or building infrastructure, say a road or a bridge, everything must be manufactured in the country. Kaname has a factory in New Hampshire, which allows it to be involved in this type of project, but the company cannot use its Quebec factories to lend a hand with federal government projects in the United States. However, a large portion of its expertise and workforce is in Canada.

demanded protectionism

Mr. Dutel laments that protectionism is one-sided. When the governments of Quebec or Canada open public invitations to bid, nothing favors local businesses in selecting bidders.

He gives an example of the following bridge on the Île d’Orléans. The construction qualification invitation launched in 2022 does not give any special advantage to Canam, which has a large factory manufacturing steel bridge components in Quebec City. The company will be viewed in the same way as its Chinese or Italian competitors.

“We have a very generous attitude as a country and as a province towards foreigners. We can’t go to their house, but they come to us as often as they want. We have to make the same rules they put on the plane,” says Mr. Dutel, adding that we’re “a little naive.”

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Massive effect

Many countries require in infrastructure projects that 25% to 40% of the content is manufactured locally. This is what Marcel Dutel would like to see here. He says the impact would be massive on projects worth $2 billion.

“A product made in Quebec by Quebec-paid workers who pay taxes here. We agree that the first 20% of the project value goes back to the state in taxes. So yeah, I’m preaching to the steeple!”

In recent years, the value of buying domestic products has been widely expressed in daily consumer products. Marcel Dutel believed that industrialization and construction should be included in this discourse.

“We make the blue basket of carrots and potatoes picked by the Mexicans and our men in our factories at wages of up to $30 an hour and more, I really wonder why they would be disadvantaged because we don’t have requirements for Canadian and Quebec content in our projects!”

Mr. Dutel believes there are enough companies on Canadian soil to ensure healthy competition in public calls for tenders.


Kaname has seen orders decline since the start of 2023, but he expects the next recession to be less violent than the one in 2008 because companies are less indebted.

Normally, there is a recession every seven to eight years. It’s been over ten years since we finished one, so we’re just about there. »

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