Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard has made good on his promise to appoint a minister to oversee anglophone affairs in the province — naming Kathleen Weil to the newly created post.
The announcement came on Wednesday, as Couillard shuffled his cabinet, ahead of next year’s provincial election.
The anglophone community in Quebec has been clamouring for years for an anglophone affairs office — an official mechanism for civil servants to consult the community before drafting legislation.
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Couillard at first was opposed to the idea of creating a different governement structure for English-speaking Quebecers, saying “We’re all Quebecers,” but in June promised he would be creating a special anglophone affairs office to protect the rights of Quebec’s English-speaking minority.
At the time, when asked about appointing a cabinet minister to anglo affairs, Couillard said he would “deliver.”
“I told you that I would appoint a minister to deal with your issues. Today this promise is fulfilled,” Couillard said on Wednesday.
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However, some question whether Weil is the right person for the job.
The new minister refuted the assertion she has downplayed her anglophone identity in the past.
“No, no, my colleagues know that I’m a very proud Scottish, Irish descendant, like many anglophones with mixed roots and I’ve never been ashamed of it, quite the opposite,” Weil said.
Weil leaves immigration — where she was minister — in the wake of heavy criticism over public consultations on systemic racism. Members of her own caucus blamed the hearings for the Liberal’s defeat earlier this month in a byelection in the riding of Louis-Hébert.
Former environment minister David Heurtel will take over.
Other surprises in Wednesday’s shuffle include the appointment of 35-year-old rookie André Fortin. The deputy for Pontiac is now minister of transport.
Another rookie, Stéphane Billette, was named minister of small and medium-sized enterprises.
Dominque Anglade has been named deputy minister and will keep her position as economy minister.
Other familiar faces remaining put include Gaetan Barrette as health minister, Carlos Leitao in finance, Sebastien Proulx in education and Stéphanie Vallée in justice.
Robert Poeti, was brought back into the fold after being shuffled out of cabinet last year. He will act as minister of integrity of public markets.
— With files from The Canadian Press