Radio-Canada’s Chief Anchor, Celine Galipeau, aired a much-anticipated year-end interview with Premier Philippe Couillard yesterday. The interview was a hot topic of discussion because the government has vowed to balance its buget within only two years (a large feat considering it took power with Canada’s second largest provincial budget deficit after Ontario). Such action has not been seen in Québec since the Lucien Bouchard years of the last half of the 1990s.
The 15 minute interview (in French) can be viewed by clicking HERE on R-C’s website.
If you’re working on improving your French, the pace and accent in the interview would give you good practice (it’s standard, International French and not very fast).
In brief, Premier Couillard,
- declared that Québec will not pursue shale-gas extraction due to a lack of benefits, high risks, and little public appetite (this closed the door on a long-standing debate),
- explained the government’s various budget-cutting decisions
- explained the government’s goals for the coming year and remaining mandate
- defended various program decisions.
I skimmed the web, and there are many scathing reactions from various politically-engaged bloggers in Québec. The web lit-up yesterday and today with people picking apart the government’s actions since taking power last April.
On the flip side, a Léger-Le Devoir poll came out last week saying that the provincial Liberals are still leading in the polls on various matters, such as
- tax increases for insurance and banking institutions
- the reduction of school commissions
- freezing public sector wages for two years
- charging for public daycare based on the user’s annual income
- reforming municipal sector pension plans.
Overall ratings remain higher for the Liberals than any other party (at 46%).
Politics are never black-and-white, but it appears those who are barking are not necessarily representative of the majority. But like anything in politics, nothing lasts forever. Who knows if this will be a long or a short honeymoon – but it so far has been going for eight months and counting.