Education minister storms out of Quebec parliament, calls critic a 'demagogue'
Published Thursday, April 20, 2023 6:39PM EDT Last Updated Friday, April 21, 2023 1:16PM EDT
QUEBEC CITY -- After tearfully apologizing to voters in Lévis on Thursday morning for a road tunnel project that won't happen, Education Minister Bernard Drainville left the Salon Bleu in the middle of the afternoon debate, irritated by questions from the opposition.
It is rare, if not unheard of, for a minister to walk out during a debate on an issue that concerns his responsibilities.
Drainville was questioned by Liberal education critic Marwah Rizqy about the increase in lunchtime fees at a school service centre in the north of Montreal.
The minister blamed the school service centre. Drainville's Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) created service centres to replace school boards.
Rizqy criticized the minister for shirking his responsibilities and linked it to the broken election commitment on the third link, a Quebec City-Lévis tunnel for cars -- a commitment that Drainville, the MNA for Lévis, had defended.
"Is the minister really talking about accountability today after the mega-backtrack (on the third link)?" Rizqy said.
He then began to call out the Liberal MNA, off-mic, to the point that Deputy Speaker of the House Chantal Soucy had to call him to order.
"I understand the frustration, but personally, when I come to do an end-of-session debate, I expect to have an [government] interlocutor," Rizqy told Drainville.
"If you want to be a demagogue, do it yourself," he retorted, off mic, but still audible in the room.
"You also have to learn to manage your emotions," she added.
"Demagogue!" he said as he left the Salon Bleu.
The Liberal MNA concluded by saying that the exercise was "a bit futile," as the minister responsible was leaving the Salon Bleu in the middle of the debate.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on April 20, 2023.