Liberal cabinet ministers met for the last time at the National Assembly Thursday before turning over the reins to the new CAQ government. Next week, those who were re-elected will form the official opposition.
“It’s the last cabinet meeting, so it’s a little bit of a formality,” said outgoing finance minister and MNA for Robert-Baldwin, Carlos Leitao.
Leitao said he will see through his four-year mandate to the end and that he’s proud that he’s handing over a government in good financial shape.
“Now it’s up to us to rebuild the party,” Leitao said.
The Liberals have already lost three members of their caucus since the Oct. 1 election. Former leader Philippe Couillard quit politics, the caucus kicked out Guy Ouellette, who will sit as an independent, and late Wednesday, the party learned its candidate in Gaspé lost after a vote recount.
“It’s a shame that we lose Alexandre Boulay. I congratulate the candidate of the PQ, but the recount was made and that was the result,” said Filomena Rotiroti, Liberal caucus president.
“It’s really unfortunate because he was a really good candidate for us, a very dynamic candidate, but at the end of the day the population chooses,” said Pierre Arcand, interim Liberal leader.
Despite these challenges, Arcand said the party is moving forward. He’s appointed Sébastien Proulx as Liberal house leader. The former education minister says he’s considering a bid for leader, but hasn’t made a decision yet.
Arcand said being house leader is not giving Proulx an unfair advantage if he does throw his name into the leadership race.
“I think it’s important to have a parliamentary leader that is experienced. We are the official opposition. And my job is to find the best people for the job,” Arcand said.
Arcand added that a leadership race could still be more than a year away.
On Thursday, Pierre Moreau, who lost his seat in Chateaugay, said he is also considering running for leader.
“I really enjoy politics. I’m a Liberal forever and I want to have an active role in the reconstruction of the party,” Moreau said.
On party renewal, he added, “It’s the worst defeat in the history of our party and the message has been sent by Liberals themselves; so what went wrong?”
Moreau ran against Couillard during the leadership race in 2013 and he came in second. In 2016, he spent a year away ill, but the former minister, who will be 61 in December, pointed out that he is younger than the new premier. He said he is “full of energy.”