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Quebec Liberals sworn in as official Opposition after being ousted from power

Quebec Liberal Opposition Leader Pierre Arcand waves to the applauding crowd as he is sworn in as member of the National Assembly Monday, Oct. 15, 2018, at the legislature in Quebec City.
Quebec Liberal Opposition Leader Pierre Arcand waves to the applauding crowd as he is sworn in as member of the National Assembly Monday, Oct. 15, 2018, at the legislature in Quebec City. Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

After a crushing defeat at the polls, the remaining 29 members of the Quebec Liberal Party will now find themselves on the other side of the National Assembly after they were sworn in as the official Opposition.

The swearing-in ceremony, which took place Monday afternoon, comes exactly two weeks after the Coalition Avenir Québec swept a majority and ousted the Liberals from power.

READ MORE: Quebec unions urge incoming CAQ government to adopt $15 minimum wage

Interim leader Pierre Arcand spoke about the need to regroup as a party, re-evaluate their positions while forming a strong opposition at the legislature.

“We will be in collaboration mode,” Arcand said. “I think there is work to be done in several regions of Quebec.”

The Quebec Liberal Party won a total of 32 seats during the Oct. 1 election, but dropped to 29 after ballot recounts and the formal resignation of former premier Philippe Couillard.

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Arcand said now party members are also tasked with discussing what went wrong during the provincial election.

“We will question a certain number of things, we will discuss on how we can improve, on how we can better understand the Quebec population, clearly,” he said.

“So we must work in that direction.”

When asked about the CAQ’s plan for a ban on religious symbols, Arcand said the Quebec Liberals are also waiting to see what kind of bill is put forward.

Quebec premier-designate François Legault has promised to prohibit certain civil servants in positions of authority — including teachers, judges and police officers — from wearing religious symbols at work.

READ MORE: François Legault doubles down on religious symbol ban after meeting with Justin Trudeau

Surrounded by members of his caucus, Arcand told a crowd of reporters his party’s priority is to protect minorities but they will wait to see what happens once the CAQ officially takes the reins.

“I’m worried on the one hand and the second thing I would say is this is not the right priorities for Quebec right now,” he said.

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— with files from Global’s Raquel Fletcher and The Canadian Press