MONTREAL, QC : Onstage at a youth party conference surrounded by party members, Quebec premier Philippe Couillard announced that August 23 will be the launch of the provincial electoral campaign.
The announcement was followed by confetti which poured through the stage and conference room. As such, the campaign will officially last 39 days, the maximum permitted under provincial law. Voting is to take place on October 1.
During the speech, Couillard praised his government’s track record on the economy, claiming that Québec “is no longer the champion of unemployment” and that the province “is a rising leader.” Couillard addressed several issues while taking the time to jab his opponents, notably on the subject of immigration. This included a statement on companies facing a workforce scarcity, especially in regions outside of Montréal and Québec city.
Without naming any opponents, Couillard attacked the idea of lowering immigration thresholds, stating “that it doesn’t make sense to lower immigration.” François Legault, whose Coalition Avenir Québec currently holds a lead in the polls, has proposed reducing the number of new arrivals from 50,000 to 40,000.
Couillard also attacked those who “want to bring Québec to the past,” likely referring to both the Coalition Avenir Québec and the Parti Québecois whose positions on religious neutrality conflict with the Liberal party’s more laissez-faire attitude on the subject.
Couillard emphasized issues surrounding the environment, and notably his government’s record on balanced budgets and filling the coffers of “the fund of generations” aimed to pay down the province’s debt. In a more surprising moment, the conference was unexpectedly interrupted when a young woman on-stage fainted off-camera. However, the situation quickly reverted to normal and Couillard resumed his speech after leaving the podium for several moments.
Couillard ended his speech with the campaign date announcement as well as confidently affirming that “Quebecers will elect a Liberal government” on October 1.