Liberals dream of the return of “budgetary rigor”

The economy is at the heart of the Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) conference, which is taking place this weekend in Bromont. From panels to speeches, proposals and interviews, everyone decided to make it the main topic of the activist gathering.

Wanting to contrast with the Legault government “which grabs money left and right” and which is “incapable of difficult choices”, the members of the PLQ should mandate their party to present a plan to return to budget balance as soon as possible. arrival of a liberal government.

But this “rigor” will require “difficult decisions” and “sacrifices”, agree the liberal tenors, whose last mandate was marked by austerity measures.

“The Liberal Party is always the party of rigor and good management of public finances,” insisted the party’s parliamentary leader, Monsef Derajji. What we are going to promise Quebecers is that the Liberal Party will take the state of public finances seriously.”

“We must act on the income column […] but above all ensure budgetary rigor.”

— Monsef Derraji, Liberal MP for Nelligan and Parliamentary Leader

“I would tell you that there is some housekeeping to be done,” MP André Fortin also opined, after mocking the CAQ government’s management of public funds. “Making difficult decisions necessarily involves making sacrifices,” he agreed, before qualifying. But that doesn’t stop us from investing in the future.”


Liberal MP André Fortin agrees that “budgetary rigor” will come with “sacrifices.” But there is no question of talking about austerity. (Edouard Plante-Fréchette/Archives La Presse)

The interim leader of the PLQ, Marc Tanguay, is of the same opinion. He “does not forgive Francois Legault from us [avoir fait] run a historic deficit of 11 billion” without a plan to return to budget balance. “We will see at the dawn of the next elections […] the extent of the damage.”

“Rigour, I think that’s the key word,” said the Montreal elected official in the press scrum. Mr. Tanguay, however, categorically refused the label of austerity, attached to his party between 2014 and 2016, when the Couillard government had seriously limited the growth of state spending.

Rigor and services, like under Couillard

The leaders of the Liberal Party, however, want to be reassuring. They assure that despite the “sacrifices”, services to the population will be spared, or even improved. As was the case under Philippe Couillard, they insist.

The framework principle voted on at the congress on Saturday also provides that the Liberals’ plan to return to a balanced budget “preserves essential services […] particularly in education and health.”

“Difficult decisions necessarily involve sacrifices. But that does not prevent us from investing in the future,” insisted André Fortin, saying he was “proud” of the record of the last Liberal government. “I remind you of the state in which Philippe Couillard took Quebec. There was a huge amount of work to be done.”


During the first two years of his mandate, Liberal Prime Minister Philippe Couillard imposed tight controls on the growth of state spending, which was often described as austerity. (Mathieu Belanger/Canadian Press Archives)

“We created wealth and managed public finances well,” added Monsef Derraji. Public services, end of 2018 [en comparaison] as of today, were in a much better position, he assured, pointing in particular to the state of the health network.

“Look at the waiting time in the emergency room and access to the first line [en santé]. No one today is going to tell me that access to the front line has improved with François Legault.

“I don’t think that Quebecers today will misanalyze what Mr. Couillard did.”

— Monsef Derraji, Liberal MP for Nelligan and Parliamentary Leader

Saturday, during their convention, the Quebec Liberals will also pay tribute to the former prime minister, several of whom have praised “courage” in recent hours.



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