Jean Charest's CTV Montreal interview
Here's are Jean Charest's comments from his interview at CTV Montreal Thursday.
Is it still an election on the rule of law?
I think it’s a bit part of it, it’s not the only issue but it’s in the backdrop given everything we experienced last spring and in the last few days we had disturbances at the universities. The vast majority of students are back at class. I’m the only leader who said that the students have a right to the classroom. Even if there’s five of 25 that want to stay in class, they have the right to stay in class
On why the Liberals’ reputation of good economic management isn’t helping
It’s interesting because everyone recognizes that we’ve done a good job and everywhere else in the world the economy is the issue, in the U.S. campaign it’s the issue. We’ve been in power for nine years and people are asking: is it time to change? And it’s a legitimate issue. The change being proposed is Marois and referendums, or Legault, who wants to fight with everyone and he says, if there’s a referendum he’d be neutral. You can’t be neutral. He’d dismantle English school boards. When you look at the big picture we offer stability, jobs and a track record of managing the economy in a competent way.
On federal indifference in this election
In 2007 we were greatly criticized because the extra funding from the federal government went to tax reduction and I believe it was the right thing to do because it helped people get through in better shape. We put the money in their pockets. The federal government is not the issue in this campaign. Marois wants to demonize Harper but the relationship isn’t about any one person or Harper. It’s about all of Canada. We’ve done well in that relationship. I believe in Canada, contrary to Legault who can’t say, ‘I am a federalist.’ I am a federalist who believes in Quebec in Canada. Canada has never had a better reputation in the world and that is an advantage to Quebec, the federal link is a positive link in this campaign.
I see language not as a divisive issue but as a source of strength for Canada and I am not happy when I see the issue being a divisive issue within Quebec. It gives Canada and Quebec more influence, the fact we have two languages and two cultures is a real advantage for us. We should celebrate it as being part of what we are, as opposed to being divisive. I look at the institutions of the community, the new university hospital at McGill, it’s a fantastic project, Concordia, Bishop’s in my riding, and we’re going to fight to protect the school boards. Those are the things in the immediate future we’ll work on but at the end of the day there’s one leader who will fight for the things the anglophone community believes in and that’s me and I’m not going to change my mind on that.
On national unity
The whole debate in Quebec is still focused on separation. I’d like it to be otherwise but as long as there’s a party out there which wants to separate, the reality is a lot of our energy goes into that debate. I’d like it to be otherwise but we have to deal with it. It puts the anglophone community in a situation that we not get to put as much attention to their issue, I acknowledge that.
There’s a higher percentage of those who come from cultural communities within the public service even though we’ve reduced the overall numbers. One issue is the recognition of their skills and we just put together a commissioner to protect them if their dealings with the professional orders aren’t what they should be. We are now approving 90 percent of those with the skill sets, their qualifications are being recognized, as opposed to a much lower number before.
On why he was mum on the Saguenay mayor’s comments
We did speak to that. I guess the reason why there may have been that impression is that I’m not running against the mayor of Saguenay but I don’t believe in what he said and we stand for a society where people are qualified no matter how their names are pronounced and that’s where we want to live. It all started when the PQ candidate said, ‘I want to see the crucifix come out of the assembly.’ We live in a society where your name shouldn’t make a difference in where you are and what you do.
On the undecideds
I think they’re genuine. In some campaigns you get undecideds that don’t want to tell you. I think they’re undecided they’re looking at the big picture after nine years they’re asking, ‘do I want to change?’ and at the end of the day I belie they’ll support us on stability one indication of that is the very high voter turnout at the advance polls, 15 percent on average across Quebec and a number of ridings we represent 20 percent have already cast their votes, that’s an expression of people who say, ‘I want stability’ and the a government with right priorities.
On vandalism at his family cemetery
When I was told about in the morning I was bewildered. I regret it happened. We did not associate it with the campaign because we don’t know. Nut the priest who is responsible for the cemetery thinks it is the campaign. I got to know my grandfather only a little and it’s very disturbing because it’s a very important symbol in our lives and that people would be so disrespectful is so disturbing. You wonder why they’d do that and be so cruel. It’s a sacred place for us so I’m not blaming anyone. When we look at these things, you have to ask why people want to do this.
On whether it’s worth it for him to continue in politics
Yes, because those are the things I’m fighting for, to live in a society where we respect each other. We have great things in front of us: the Northern Plan, labour stability, it’s one of the great places in the world as long as we focus on things that unite us, not divide us. We have our place in Canada and this place is worth fighting for.