QUEBEC CITY – “Welcome Premier.” The greeting was courteous. Pauline Marois followed tradition and publicly congratulated Premier-elect Philippe Couillard before showing him to his new office.
The exercise was painful. In fact, for PQ ministers, Wednesday was all about saying goodbye.
“It’s basically the best occasion to say hello and goodbye to some people who are basically friends and to say farewell to a great premier,” said Yves-François Blanchet, defeated in Johnson.
“I want to say goodbye to my great friend Pauline,” added PQ MNA Nicole Léger.
Jean-Francois Lisée said Marois will go down in history for having considerably improved family life in Quebec.
“With daycare at low cost, that was her thing, parental leave and she fought for equity pay as well,” he said.
He thanked Marois for leaving the Parti Québécois in “good shape.”
“The membership is in good shape, the team she assembled is a very talented team. She leaves a party that has the ability to rebound,” Lisée insisted.
After holding her very last cabinet meeting, Marois stepped out to answer questions. It wasn’t long before tears started flowing and she asked for a tissue.
“I’ve rehearsed this 20 times,” she said, “but I still can’t get through it.”
With emotion at its peak, Marois told reporters she still believes in sovereignty.
“I don’t know when, I don’t know how, but one thing I know is we would be in a best situation if we are independent, I’m sure of that,” she said. “We are different, we are a nation, we have the French language as our culture, that’s very important and we are able to do that if we decide to choose this freedom.”
Marois bowed out after having dedicated more than 30 years of her life to politics. She said she is proud of her accomplishments and leaves with absolutely no regrets.
Marois announced she will stay on as PQ leader until June 7 2014.