Quebec Finance Minister  Carlos Leitao was in the hot seat on Tuesday night, with representatives of the other three parties heavily criticizing his tenure during a debate organized by the Montreal Board of Trade.

The debate, which was moderated by LCN host Mario Dumont, saw Coalition Avenir Quebec candidate Yuri Chassin arguing that Quebec residents were severely affected by budget cuts.

Leitao repeatedly defended his record, saying austerity measures had been made necessary due to mismanagement of public finances by previous administrations.

“We did what we did in 2014 because we had to do it,” Leitao said. “Our good management of public finances gives us back the freedom of our choices.”

Chassin, who has served as an economist and research director at the Montreal Economic Instituteright-wing think tank, said he agreed with Leitao’s goal of funding public services without going into debt, but said Leitao had bungled the means of getting there.

The CAQ candidate said he would replace cuts with a “fight against waste and bureaucracy,” a statement that drew criticism from the Parti Quebecois’ Nicolas Marceau.

Marceau said the CAQ had falsely claimed it would lower taxes while also increasing services.

In turn, Marceau was hammered by Quebec Solidaire’s Simon Tremblay-Pepin, who said Marceau had implemented his own austerity measures while serving as Minister of Finance under former premier Pauline Marois.