#NewsMatters: The National Assembly Report
By Raquel Fletcher
Liberal leader slams “historic anglophones” reference
Quebec Liberal Party leader Dominique Anglade is trying to distinguish her party from the governing Coalition Avenir Québec on at least two fronts – anglophones and climate change.
During the Liberal’s policy convention this past weekend in Quebec City, Anglade slammed Premier François Legault for his reference to “historic anglophones,” in a speech last month to open a new session of the National Assembly. Many anglophones find the term offensive.
“I have a message for him and to all English-speaking Quebecers,” Anglade said during her address to party members Friday night at the convention.
“I hear your concern and, yes, your suspicion, when you witness the Premier choosing the word ‘historic’ to describe your place here. Let him understand, here, now and always: You are Quebecers,” she said.
However, Westmount-St. Louis MNA, Jennifer Maccarone said she recognizes the Liberal Party has its own work to do to win back the esteem of English speakers.
“I hear that people feel that we haven't been there, and that is absolutely something that we need to address,” she said.
The Liberal Party supports the government’s controversial French language reform, Bill 96, but MNAs insisted they are fighting for amendments to protect the rights of Anglophones.
$100 billion climate change plan
Seeking to redefine the Liberal Party heading into next year’s provincial election, Anglade promised a $100 billion plan to combat climate change if her party wins back power.
Project Eco would nationalize green hydrogen production, a clean fossil fuel alternative that can be used where hydroelectricity cannot, such as to fuel ships and planes. Anglade wants to make the environment the party’s top priority while setting it apart from political rivals.
“There's no question that we had to make a decision about where the party is going,” Anglade said. “I've been saying all along that the biggest challenge we have is the challenge of climate change.”
The Liberals suffered an historic loss of seats in the 2018 provincial election and Quebec Solidaire is currently polling higher among francophones. However, Liberals brushed off the suggestion the party is moving towards the left to draw voters away from the second opposition.
“We are much more pro-business,” said MNA Pierre Arcand.
CAQ not doing enough on environment: Liberals
At the same time, the Liberals criticized the CAQ for being too focused on the economy and not including any money to fight climate change in its economic update unveiled last week.
Finance Minister Eric Girard announced $11 billion in new spending over the next five years, including a special rising cost of living allowance for low and middle-income wage earners, who will receive a cheque for $275 ($400 for a couple) in the new year.
In the past, Legault has responded to criticism he is not doing enough for the environment by expressing his desire to export more hydroelectricity to neighbouring states and provinces and make Quebec the “battery of North America.” The government has also talked about producing green hydrogen, but has yet to invest major sums of money.
Raquel Fletcher is Global News’ National Assembly Reporter