Rona, Uber, Anticosti on the agenda as Liberals begin caucus
Published Thursday, February 4, 2016 5:22PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 4, 2016 7:30PM EST
The premier's first order of business at his party’s caucus meeting was reassuring Quebecers about Rona’s future after news broke of American hardware chain Lowe’s $3.2. billion friendly takeover of the Quebec company.
Philippe Couillard says Quebec companies are buying into other markets too.
“We are thinking about workers, we are thinking about the supply chain of Rona. We want to be very careful about this. But again what's the best answer? The best answer is to keep conquering new markets. For one Rona, there's also one CGI, one Couche Tard, one Saputo,” he said.
After the PQ and the CAQ, now it's the Liberals’ turn for two straight days of strategizing ahead of the new session at the National Assembly.
Couillard is also facing questions about oil and gas exploration on Anticosti Island. The previous PQ government signed multi-million dollar agreements with the Petrolia oil company, but Couillard doesn't support oil development there.
He says the priority is protecting the environment for future generations – even if it will cost millions in public money to cancel the project.
“It was fundamentally a huge mistake to agree to invest public funds and start exploration with fracking on an island in the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence without any environmental evaluation before that decision. It was a big mistake so we're stuck with that,” he said.
Uber is also a big test for the government right now, as it tries to figure out how to regulate the service.
The government is trying to level the playing field, starting with parliamentary committee hearings in the coming weeks on Uber and the taxi industry. But in the meantime, Transport Minister Jacques Daoust admits the government can't stop Uber from operating.
“How will you implement that? How will you stop Uber.com? It's not that easy,” he said.
The winter session of the National Assembly begins Feb. 9.
Premier Philippe Couillard smiles as his party's two-day pre-session caucus meeting begins in Quebec City Feb. 4, 2016.