QUEBEC CITY – Liberal Party leader Philippe Couillard has a plan to put the province back on track.
“We are 23 per cent of our country’s population, we generate only 20 per cent of Canada’s wealth and we represent 27 per cent of provincial expenses in Canada,” he said.
“So we have to bring all that together.”
The Liberal leader was in Bécancour on Tuesday to unveil his economic platform.
Couillard said a Liberal government would boost investor confidence and return the province to prosperity.
He promised, if elected on April 7, that he will cut bureaucracy by $1.3 billion in the first two years of his mandate and reinvest some of that money into patient care and education.
At the same time, Couillard predicted his government would be able to restore investor confidence, enough to obtain a budgetary surplus by 2015-2016.
This would allow him to cancel the Parti Quebecois’ daycare hikes and phase out the unpopular health tax created by the previous Charest government.
“The health tax in my idea was never such a good idea for two reasons,” he said.
“First it increases the tax burden on citizens’ shoulders. And second it’s not that efficient; after a couple of years you stop seeing the beneficiary effect of the tax because it starts rolling in the recurrent base in the ministry.”
Couillard also promised to create a permanent standing committee to review government programs.
“In a private business, everybody everyday checks the costs,” he said.
“This is something we have to do also in the public sector.”
While Couillard tore into the PQ’s proposed charter of values, calling it “job discrimination,” the PQ’s economic trio was going on the attack.
“The Liberal Party is making up imaginary revenues of $5.1 billion and artificial growth,” said PQ candidate in Rousseau and Finance Minister Nicolas Marceau.
The PQ also tried to revive the controversy around Couillard’s former business partner and alleged fraudster, Dr. Arthur Porter.
But Couillard was having none of it.
“We are in the middle of a campaign, the debate is coming, nobody’s naïve enough to believe this comes as a coincidence,” he said.
Couillard is heading into Thursday’s debate ahead in the polls, making him the biggest target now for concerted attacks from all sides.