QUEBEC CITY – The Canadian flag was removed from the National Assembly’s Red Room as 30 Parti Quebecois MNAs took their oath and were sworn into office.
For some, it was a gloomy day.
“I’m a little bit sad thinking about all these colleagues that we’ve lost along the way, and the fact that we’re going to be the opposition now, not the government,” said PQ MNA and architect of the party’s proposed charter of values, Bernard Drainville.
“It’s a bit sad because we’ve lost some colleagues,” agreed PQ MNA Stéphane Bergeron, “but the fact is, we have been given a mandate by the population and we’ll have to abide by this mandate.”
The interim PQ leader Stéphane Bédard tried his best to lift spirits by listing PQ accomplishments and promising to head a strong and constructive opposition.
“What a great team we have!” Bédard exclaimed.
But Quebec’s longest-serving MNA, François Gendron, said that he saw an arduous road ahead because the party’s upcoming leadership race is bound to split the party into camps and weaken its performance.
“The leadership race can wait,” he said.
Bergeron respectfully disagreed: “I think we’re able to walk and chew gum at the same time.”
The Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) announced that it will be the “real” official opposition.
The party now boasts 22 MNAs, just eight fewer than the PQ.
“Right now, we definitely need to change the economic strategy in Quebec,” said CAQ leader François Legault.
“This will be the focus, and I think we’re in a good position to have a real discussion with Mr. Couillard.”
Opposition parties promised to keep the newly elected Liberal government in check, especially when it comes to integrity and jobs.
All eyes are now on the Premier Couillard as he forms his cabinet and prepares to write a new chapter in federal-provincial relations by meeting Prime Minister Stephen Harper as early as this week.