Philippe Couillard promises change, transparency during Liberal mandate
Published Tuesday, April 8, 2014 6:42PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, April 8, 2014 6:53PM EDT
Premier-designate Philippe Couillard says he will get moving on promises to boost the economy, pass a budget and implement a charter of secularism as soon as he is sworn into office, which will likely be within two weeks.
Couillard spoke to reporters Tuesday afternoon in Quebec City, the day after leading his party to the province’s first majority mandate since 2008.
Couillard said he plans on following through on his campaign trail pledge to give Quebecers “the most transparent government they’ve ever seen” by making public documents on infrastructure work, expense accounts and training activities for ministers and government agencies.
He also emphasized that he wouldn’t compromise when it comes to integrity, and noted that with the Charbonneau Commission leading to increased scrutiny of provincial political parties, his party will be quick to ask questions in the event one of its members is named at the inquiry.
The Liberals won 70 out of 125 seats, relegating the Parti Quebecois to 30, its worst showing in decades, and topping the Coalition Avenir Quebec’s 22 and Quebec solidaire's three seats.
“I feel great,” he said. “Calm too. When my wife and I woke up this morning, we were surprised at how calm we felt.”
Couillard pointed out he was proud to be elected in the riding of Roberval, in eastern Quebec, a region that doesn’t usually vote Liberal.
He said if the auditor general finds the deficit is larger than first thought, he will cut government bureaucracy, not services, to recuperate the funds.
When it comes to legislation on secularism, Couillard said their law won’t look anything like the PQ’s plan, which he said was damaging and divisive.
“We're not going to do anything, anything that goes even close to job discrimination,” he said.
And the new liberal government will revive the dying with dignity act, which would give the terminally ill the right to end their lives.
Political analyst and McGill professor Antonia Maioni said now that the campaign is over, she’s hopeful the level discourse may be higher than the mudslinging that ran rampant over the past few weeks.
“I think Quebecers deserve better, and will be looking at their leaders to set the tone in the next National Assembly when it reconvenes. But I think we'll also be looking for the Liberal Party to make good on some of its promises about the economy,” she said.
Couillard said former Liberal premier Daniel Johnson will oversee the transition period as he takes over from the PQ.
Pauline Marois lost her own seat in her party’s shellacking and subsequently stepped down.
CAQ Leader Francois Legault said earlier in the day that Couillard won the election because Quebecers voted to prevent a referendum.
Legault said his party, which won four more seats this time around, will work to ensure it’s a credible alternative to the Liberals in 2018, when the next election will be held.
According to CTV Montreal’s Max Harrold, Couillard wants to meet with Pauline Marois as soon as possible to plan the transition, but today the Liberals were told Marois needed a day.
They expect a call from her Wednesday.