Sparks fly in Quebec City during rough day back from vacations for PQ
Published Tuesday, February 12, 2013 9:44PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 13, 2013 8:07AM EST
MONTREAL—A new year, a new session at the National Assembly and yet no new civility.
“Don’t cut in education,” warned Coalition Avenir Quebec leader Francois Legault. “I need to pay down the debt of the previous government. $1.6 billion,” shouted back Premier Pauline Marois.
While others argue, one backbencher took a nap.
Welcome to Quebec City on Tuesday as MNAs got back to work. In the National Assembly, the opposition didn't waste any time going after the minority Parti Quebecois government.
On the agenda: the government's Higher Education Summit later this month. The government prefers indexation, but may sweeten the pot with more student loans and bursaries. The Liberals say the PQ is improvising.
“It's as if Madame Marois is inventing everyday a new line just to hide that she had a deal with a part of the students,” said Interim Liberal leader Jean-Marc Fournier.
The PQ counters that a range of options at the summit means a healthy discussion.
“In the campaign we said two things: We're going to abolish this abominable hike in tuition fees of 75 to 82 per cent and we said we'll have a summit and our preferred option is indexation so we're delivering exactly what we said,” said Jean-Francois Lisee, the Minister Responsible for Montreal.
Another hot button for the PQ is Bill 14: the party's plan to beef up language laws.
The Lester B. Pearson Schoolboard has slammed the bill, calling it "an outright attempt to further inhibit and ghettoize the English community.”
Lisee says people need to calm down; the bill could change after consultations.
“Come to the table, make a proposal. We're open for debate,” said Lisee.
The government was tight-lipped about a police investigation into a $6.5 billion Hydro-Quebec dam project on the Romaine River.
“For the interests of all Quebecers, we need to see that if [Quebec’s anti-corruption unit] is visiting Hydro-Quebec equipment, we need to know how these contracts are given and maybe change the way we give contracts in Hydro-Quebec and have the auditor-general verify all these contracts,” said MNA Francois Bonnardel from the CAQ.
The CAQ is demanding that the government release all the contracts for the dam. But all the PQ said on this tense first day of the session, is that it will cooperate with the police.
Later in the day, the PQ mistakenly voted against the budget cuts it imposed on universities.