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Quebec Liberals gear up for campaign with more women candidates, younger caucus

WATCH: After a difficult week, Quebec Liberal candidates met in the Beauce on Monday to prepare for the provincial election campaign. As Global's Raquel Fletcher reports, Premier Philippe Couillard says his team is united and ready for the campaign trail – but he admits it will be a tight race against the CAQ.

Quebec Liberal candidates met in the Beauce Monday for a pre-election caucus. Last week was difficult for the Liberals after Premier Philippe Couillard turfed 24-year veteran François Ouimet to make room for new candidates.

The premier said his team is still united and ready for the campaign trail, but he admitted it’s going to be a tight race against the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ).

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However, the premier said that was also the case in 2014:

“It’s never been easy for us Liberals… We always have to struggle, and fight for what we think we should do. And we always do,” Couillard said.

It’s just days before the kick-off to the election campaign on August 23, but last week, the Liberals got off to a shaky start. Some top ministers were caught unaware of the premier’s decision to boot Ouimet out of the West Island riding of Marquette in favour of former NHL player, Enrico Ciccone.

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Couillard had promised the seat to Ouimet, only to go back on his word at the last minute.

Premier Philippe Couillard sits down with Jamie Orchard
Premier Philippe Couillard sits down with Jamie Orchard

WATCH: Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard speaks to Global Montreal Senior Anchor Jamie Orchard about the upcoming provincial election campaign

On Monday, Couillard welcomed a number of new candidates to the party during a pre-election caucus in Scott. He was eager to show a united and enthusiastic front.

“We’re all in the same team now. We’re all rowing in the same direction,” he said.

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The new makeup of candidates is so far 40 per cent women and 25 per cent under 35. There are many new faces, and most candidates don’t have any prior political experience, hence the daylong caucus, which was aimed to provide training to the newcomers.

“Once upon a time, I was a new candidate with no political experience as well. It’s always with trepidation that you [get involved in politics], when you don’t have the experience, but you learn quickly,” said Kathleen Weil, the minister responsible for relations with English-speaking Quebecers.

However, if the Liberal Party is under so-called renewal, Couillard says he realizes as leader, he doesn’t represent the younger generation himself. He joked that he was “not that old.”

“You know, when I get that question because I’m 61 — I’ve been younger, obviously. My job — the job of my generation now, today, is to prepare the ground for the next generation,” he said.

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