All eyes on Couillard as rumours of cabinet shuffle intensify

QUEBEC CITY – A coalition of Parti Québécois MNAs as well as public and private daycares prayed Wednesday for a cabinet shuffle.

“We’re hoping that Mr. Couillard puts somebody else in this place who will think ‘well these people here with all this experience, maybe I have something to learn from them,'” said Mona Lisa Borrega, from the private daycares’ association.

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They argue Francine Charbonneau is the worst Family Minister they’ve ever known, ill prepared and unavailable, worst than Tony Tomassi, the Liberal who was convicted of fraud last June.

“It’s been a year of confrontation, confrontation, no consultation,” Borrega added.

On Wednesday, Premier Philippe Couillard continued to defend his ministers, albeit with less and less zest.

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“I have confidence in my team, I will not comment rumours and articles in newspapers, we will go forward, I have a lot of talent both in cabinet and in my caucus and I’m very happy with the team that is around me,” he said.

Just weeks before the budget, pressure is increasing on the Premier to demote ministers considered to be weak links.

Education Minister Yves Bolduc and Environment Minister David Heurtel join Charbonneau on that sorry list.

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“We all know that he’s looking in the next few hours to make changes but it’s too little too late. He should have done something with Mr. Bolduc a long time ago,” said Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) leader François Legault.

The pressure is also increasing outside the National Assembly, where a new protest movement is burgeoning.

“I’m from Edouard-Montpetit college and they’re cutting services to students. And it’s going to be even more felt by parents in the CPEs,” said anti-austerity protester Louise Turcotte, as she marched alongside 200 other CSQ union members.

READ MORE: Montrealers take to the streets to protest Quebec’s austerity policies

“They should look more closely at what we’re doing and I will tell this to you and everybody: they march but the vast majority of the public is looking at us and asking us to march on,” Health Minister Gaétan Barrette said.

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With protests intensifying, Couillard wants to make sure his ministers are up to par.

He is expected to shuffle his cabinet this week, before flying off to France for an economic mission.