Hydro-Quebec has provoked the ire of the new Natural Resources Minister, Guy Chevrette, by asking for a 4.7-percent increase in electricity rates.

“It appears to me to be fairly high, thank you. It forces me as a minister to question Hydro-Quebec closely,” said Chevrette.

“At a time when the state is bleeding white, I think that a minister who is part of a government that is responsible for its state structures must require the same rigor, the same effort from its state corporations as it requires from the government.”

The rate increase would be more than twice Canada’s inflation rate of 2 per cent. Last year, the utility posted a profit of $390 million.

Last year was also the first time in 28 years that the government froze hydro rates, rejecting Hydro’s application for a 2-per-cent hike.

Chevrette said the cabinet will rule on Hydro’s application for a rate hike in March.

Chevrette also announced that he has sent a report to cabinet from the inquiry investigating corruption in Hydro’s dealings with private hydro developers.