'CAQ is a joke': Couillard snipes at Legault as National Assembly session ends
Published Friday, December 8, 2017 10:59AM EST
Last Updated Friday, December 8, 2017 6:48PM EST
As the parliamentary session ended for the holiday break on Friday, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard took some parting shots at rival Francois Legault.
Addressing the media while surrounded by members of the PLQ caucus, Couillard called Legault’s Coalition Avenir Quebec “a joke.”
Couillard accused Legault of taking part in "low politics" and of flip-flopping on issues like sovereignty.
"It's obvious that the word 'change' is appealing," said Couillard. "But what change exactly is Mr. Legault bringing to Quebec? He himself has changed his party. He has changed his belief on the future of Quebec."
As the two parties vie to woo anglo voters in the wake of the infamous 'Bonjour, Hi' vote, Couillard argued his party would do more for English speakers. He said he was surprised by the reaction to the Liberal vote in support of calling the bilingual greeting a "nuisance," saying he would be more careful in the future.
"(Legault) even said recently that the secretariat (responsible for English-speaking Quebecers), he would probably remove it because he doesn't really believe in it," he said. "That's one example. When have you heard him say a good word about Canada? When have you seen him make a speech with the Canadian flag behind him?"
Recent polls have shown the CAQ ahead of the Liberals as the parties prepare for the 2018 provincial election.
For his part, Legault said he believes the CAQ has dictated the parliamentary agenda during the past session. He blew off Couillard's criticisms and accused the Liberal leader of hypocrisy and of panicking due to the polls.
"The way Mr. Couillard is doing politics is not what he announced at the beginning," he said. "He said that he would be respectful, that he would do politics in a different way. We all see that's not what he delivers. And it's his choice."
Parti Quebecois leader Jean-Francois Lisee held his own post-mortem. Responding to his own poll numbers, which have the PQ lagging in a distant third, Lisee said he does not consider his party down and out.
"Underestimating the Parti Quebecois is a national sport," he said, also taking his turn at attacking the CAQ.
"They seem to be new on the shelf, and their only argument is that they haven't governed. But now, look at how they would govern. They would be a risk," he said
The past session was a hectic one, as it saw Liberal MNA Guy Ouellette arrested, but never charged, by UPAC, setting off allegations of impropriety against the anti-corruption police squad. The session also saw heated debate around the controversial religious neutrality law and the recent imbroglio over the use of ‘bonjour/hi’ in commercial establishments.
The National Assembly will reconvene in February.
- With files from The Canadian Press