QUEBEC CITY – It was short but intense.
The spring parliamentary session is over. Many things were achieved but it’s last Saturday’s spectacular prison break that is sticking to the new Liberal government like glue.
Public Security Minister Lise Thériault was still embroiled in controversy, one week after three dangerous inmates fled the Quebec City jail in a helicopter.
Thériault was doing everything she can to get to the bottom of this, her colleagues maintained on Friday. But her mishandling of the file had the Parti Quebecois calling again for her resignation.
“The farce has lasted long enough,” said PQ interim leader Stéphane Bédard.
The issue had completely hijacked the end of session.
“I just want to reaffirm that once everything will be known, the commission will show that Madame Thériault and the government acted well,” said Premier Philippe Couillard.
Watch: Quebec prison security loosened before jailbreak
The Premier pointed out many things were achieved during this session; the “Dying with Dignity” bill was passed, so was legislation giving Montreal an inspector general. The budget was also adopted and two commissions, one on program review and the other on fiscal reform, were launched.
“What we achieved in just a few weeks is really incredible and I’m very very encouraged by what we’re doing now,” said Treasury Board President Martin Coiteux.
The Liberals also tabled legislation to solve the problem of pension plan deficits, which was instantly seen by unions as a declaration of war.
“We’re not declaring war to anybody,” said Municipal Affairs Minister Pierre Moreau.
“We’re telling them if you want those plans to survive you have to sit down and solve the problem.”
The Coalition Avenir Quebec slapped the Liberals with a grade of 5 out of 10.
“Mr. Couillard said during the election campaign that he will not increase the tax burden and he already announced he’s increasing hydro tariffs by 4 per cent and school taxes by 8 per cent,” CAQ leader François Legault said.
“It’s better to increase a bit every year than to, at one moment, have a big increase,” responded Education Minister Yves Bolduc.
It may be the end of the spring session, but MNAs won’t be heading out for vacation just yet. Not only is the prison break crisis deepening, the government’s spending estimates still need to be scrutinized, meaning MNAs will be on the job until about mid-July.