Couillard takes credit for saving Quebec from financial peril on last day of session
Published Friday, December 9, 2016 12:32PM EST
Last Updated Friday, December 9, 2016 7:00PM EST
On the last day of the political session, Premier Philippe Couillard stepped back from comments in which he claimed to have "saved Quebec."
"I would add just a small piece to it," he said. "Objectively, nobody can deny this. We saved Quebec from financial disaster."
Couillard took credit for the province's $2.2 billion surplus, saying it was the result of hard cost-cutting measures his government had enacted over the past few years. However, his opponents said the premier owes Quebecers an apology for the toll those measures took on education and health care.
"He could have said 'stop cutting, it hurts too much,'" said Parti Quebecois leader Jean-Francois Lisee. "But he said 'keep cutting,' up to $2.2 billion too much."
Legault takes shots at Libs, PQ
Coaltion Avenir Quebec leader Francois Legault said that both the provincial Liberals and the Parti Quebecois are disconnected from Quebecers and what Quebecers are worried about.
He said middle class families are struggling to pay their bills and that is why the CAQ has been pushing for lower income taxes for Quebec families.
Legault also mocked the Liberal government because of rumours Premier Couillard will have a cabinet shuffle next year, once Pierre Moreau is healthy.
"You can't put Pierre Moreau in every ministry," he quipped.
Legault, trying to position himself as a premier-in-waiting, said he is also concerned with Quebec values and religious symbols.
He is not happy with Bill 62, the Liberal proposal which would make it mandatory for people to have their faces uncovered if they want to give or receive government services.
He wants to implement measures suggested in the Bouchard-Taylor report, including banning religious symbols for police officers, judges, and others in positions of authority.
Because of an ad that showed the party's opposition to the chador, a robe that covers the arms and head but exposes the face, some people have compared Legault to Donald Trump.
"It's an insult because I don't think I went as far as saying I would build a wall, we would put all Muslims in the same group. I said we have to make some rules in order to have a better integration," said Legault. "If we don't want to have somebody like Donald Trump we should not do what Mr. Couillard is doing, which is to put all that under the carpet."
He added that he is confident that Quebecers want a change, moving away from the Liberals which have held power for most of this century, and have already demonstrated that they have no interest in the Parti Quebecois even with a promise to defer a referendum on separation.
Anglophones ignorant of corruption
At Quebec Solidaire's year-in-review conference, Amir Khadir said he's convinced anglophones don't realize the extent of corruption in the Liberal party.
"Only a quarter of anglophones are aware that the Liberals are corrupt," said Khadir.
In recent weeks Khadir has been hounding the Liberals about corruption, even speaking in English in the National Assembly during question period.
According to Khadir, English media in Quebec avoids critiquing the Liberal party whenever it is accused of legal and ethical wrongdoing.
Meanwhile Manon Massé, the MNA for Sainte Marie Saint Jacques, said she wants to be nowhere near Gerry Sklavounos if he returns to the National Assembly.
Sklavounos left the Liberal party in October after being accused of sexually assaulting a waitress in 2014.
The police investigation into the case stalled when the alleged victim stopped talking to police for many months, but spoke to officers after speaking at a vigil denouncing a series of sexual assaults at L'Université de Laval.
Sklavounos has been on medical leave from the National Assembly since late October.
Lisée: bickering is over
PQ leader Jean-Francois Lisée celebrated his party's victory in two by-elections this past Sunday by saying it showed voters thought the Liberal party's record was "inexcusable."
In the four by-elections the status quo in the National Assembly was maintained: voters in each of the ridings re-elected the same party that had won the seat two years ago.
Lisée said that was a sign that the Couillard government's efforts to distance itself from the dubious morals of the Charest era, and the austerity measures of the past two years, had failed.
He said voters should not have the wool pulled over their eyes during the next two years.
"They are going to try to make believe that they are a new government and it will not work," said Lisée.
Lisée added that voters should expect a more mature and responsible PQ, saying that "with me, the constant bickering over old issues is over."
One of Lisée's campaign planks in his successful bid to become the PQ leader was a promise to defer any possible referendum on separation for at least six years.
He also addressed the rumoured cabinet shuffle planned for the new year, and said he hoped Robert Poeti would be returned to his status as Transport Minister.
Poeti was moved out of cabinet in January, but he raised red flags about the Transportation Ministry in a letter to his successor, saying that allegations of questionable practices had to be investigated.
At the time the opposition said Poeti was shuffled out because he was supporting investigative analysts trying to root out corrupt behaviour.