QUEBEC CITY – There was a nervousness in the air as MNAs faced off in the very first Question Period since the April elections.
Premier Philippe Couillard fielded some tough questions on the economy, but the biggest blow came with the news that yet another Liberal is being called to testify at the Charbonneau Commission.
The Premier is an experienced politician, but the magnitude of the change Quebecers voted for on April 7 has only just started to sink in.
That didn’t stop Couillard from cracking a few jokes though – saying he was glad he would now get to see the right side of the Speaker’s face.
“I hope that goes on for another four and a half years,” laughed Jacques Chagnon, Speaker of the National Assembly and MNA of Westmount–Saint-Louis.
Chagnon says he hopes good relations between the parties will last – but that didn’t stop the Parti Québécois from launching its first attack.
“The Premier is leading the province toward a credit rating downgrade,” said Stephane Bedard, the PQ’s interim leader.
Nevertheless, Couillard appeared calm in defending his government’s vision for healthy public finances.
On the other hand, he was noticeably less enthused to talk about former colleague Nathalie Normandeau, the second Liberal being called to testify before the Charbonneau Commission.
“The commission can call whomever it pleases,” said Lise Theriault, the Liberal MNA for Anjou-Louis-Riel.
Now, the Liberals are kicking into high gear.
The party is hoping to put the past firmly behind them and is resuming work on two pieces of legislation, including the Dying with Dignity bill.
“We will have the choice by this law to choose from palliative care to medical aid to die,” said Gaetan Barrette, Quebec’s Health Minister.
The post of Inspector General may also be implemented in early June.
“The bill that is tabled today is the bill that will give the actual General Inspector of Montreal the power to act,” said Pierre Moreau, Liberal MNA for Marguerite-D’Youville.
The Liberals are expecting to face more resistance when they table a revised pension plan legislation and their budget on June 5th.