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Quebec oppositions say Liberal tax refunds came from spending cuts

Quebec Liberal tax cuts leave opposition parties unconvinced
WATCH: Question period was full of insults and mockery at the National Assembly over the Liberals’ economic update, as the opposition accused the government of trying to pull the wool over voters’ eyes. Global's Raquel Fletcher reports.

Question period at Quebec’s National Assembly Wednesday was one filled with insults and mockery as MNAs went back and forth over the economy.

The Liberals boasted about their economic update and tax cuts, announced Tuesday, but opposition parties say the government is trying to pull the wool over voters’ eyes.

“He [Premier Philippe Couillard] really thinks that Quebecers are idiots,” said Parti Québécois (PQ) finance critic Nicolas Marceau.

Quebec Solidaire MNA Amir Khadir said the same thing: “I see lots of people who just laugh at it and say, ‘Do they believe we are idiots?'”

Opposition parties insist Quebecers won’t forget the three years of austerity before this week’s tax cut announcement.

READ MORE: Quebec finance minister announces personal income tax cuts

“The whole thing was made to [be] electoral gifts in the last year, so that’s the height of cynicism,” said PQ leader Jean-François Lisée.
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“No, no, listen, what we did yesterday is what we said we would do,” said Finance Minister Carlos Leitao in defense.

Each party set out to prove it was right during Wednesday’s question period, using various charts as props — and a lot of sarcasm.

The taunting and heckles got so bad, the speaker interrupted several times with a plea for calm.

READ MORE: Quebec gets credit rating upgrade, surpasses Ontario for first time: Leitao

The premier defended the government’s track record on the economy.

“Once we were able to, we invested in the public service, we reduced people’s taxes. We’re very proud to have done that and — something incredible not seen in 40 years in Quebec — we lowered the debt,” he said.

The premier then took a swing at Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) leader François Legault, who is currently ahead in the polls.

Couillard argued the Liberals’ economic update proves the government has a better economic plan than the CAQ as it created well-paying jobs and salaries growing faster in Quebec than anywhere else in Canada.

“The question for the population, is can we trust that person over there?” he said, pointing to Legault.

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Legault fired back: “The premier can read his little notes, but it still remains, the premier, what he’s really telling us is that he’s proud that Quebec has a growth rate lower that two per cent for the next four years.”

He said Quebec’s growth rate is consistently lower than the national average.

That, coupled with higher equalization payments from the federal government is nothing to be proud of, he insisted.

Quebec Solidaire MNAs pointed out Legault had been pushing for the tax cuts the Liberals have now delivered.

“The premier cannot say the leader of the CAQ doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and then spend the bulk of its energy over the last few years, implementing CAQ ideas,” said Khadir to laughter in the chamber.