The official kickoff to the provincial election campaign may still be days away, but the Liberals are already working to guarantee Quebec’s anglophone vote.
On Thursday, Premier Philippe Couillard tried to win over a room full of community leaders at Dawson College.
“I think he spoke well,” Côte Saint Luc mayor Mitchell Brownstein said. “He also mentioned — which I agree with — things have never been better in terms of the relationship between the English community and our provincial government.”
Couillard touted the performance of Quebec’s economy under his government.
“The economy is booming as it is because of what we did,” Couillard said. “They’re all happy to see money in health care and education.”
The premier also reaffirmed his party’s commitment to strengthening access to services for anglophones.
Perhaps to further make a point, he announced that $75 million to $95 million will be allocated to the expansion of Dawson College.
“It’s going to be a significant project… grouping all health care programs together under one roof,” the Liberal leader said. “It’s been long since people waited for that. We knew it was needed and we’re answering needs of this community.”
But the answer to those needs has been slow to come.
“We’re trying to move the files along and as they move along — even if it’s slower and more painful than we like — the fact that they move is good,” said Geoffrey Chambers, president of the Quebec Community Groups Network.
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Anglophones have traditionally been a shoe-in vote for the provincial Liberals.
Lately, though, the community has been feeling neglected by the party they helped bring to power.
“You say you feel being taken for granted, you feel that we are getting away from you, I get that,” Couillard said. “I see why you say this and where you’re coming from. Therefore, I’ll act on it.”
Some of the key issues leaders are urging the premier to act on are keeping English school boards and improving access to services for English-speaking seniors.
“It’s not just the silo of one service: it’s transportation, it’s bus service, it’s the environment,” said Sheila Goldbloom.
It’s all things Couillard says he’ll handle if given a second mandate.
“I feel very positive,” the leader said.