The spoken version takes precedence.
My fellow Quebecers,
I would like to begin this opening speech by congratulating you once again on your election. I am convinced that you will fulfil your responsibilities brilliantly.
You can rely on the government’s full collaboration to ensure that parliamentary deliberations proceed smoothly.
I would also like to take advantage of this opportunity to congratulate each of the 124 MNAs elected to the National Assembly of Québec, including the Leader of the Official Opposition, the Leader of the Second Opposition Group and the Leader of the Third Opposition Group.
It is a great honour and a privilege to represent Quebecers in this Parliament, which has a long history.
We must be proud of our history, the history of a nation built in adversity but also in a spirit of openness and respect.
Of course, the First Nations and Inuit first discovered and occupied the territory.
We must never forget it.
Moreover, I have promptly met with a number of their representatives.
I intend to work with them to develop Québec for the common good of our respective nations.
I recently had the opportunity to visit a new archaeological site in Old Québec City that dates from the time of New France.
Our nation has inherited a great history.
We are the descendants of bold individuals who crossed the Atlantic to build what has become modern Québec.
Our ancestors explored the continent and reminders of their presence are found throughout Canada and the United States.
The French or the French Canadians discovered or explored more than half of the American states. It took boldness to build what has become a French-speaking nation in North America.
Such boldness must inspire us.
It spurs our entrepreneurs to get started from scratch to build businesses that set out to conquer the world.
It encourages our athletes to win Olympic medals and encourages our scientists to make numerous discoveries.
If I had to identify the government’s adversary, it would be fear, the fear of making mistakes, the fear of being incapable, the fear of change.
Such fear is the opposite of boldness.
As President Roosevelt stated in a much more dramatic context, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
To our fellow Anglo-Quebeckers, I want to say again our will to define our common future together.
Your historical community is an enrichment for Québec in many regions.
We are proud to protect your historical rights and we will keep on doing just that.
We must also be aware of our rich and diverse parliamentary history.
In recent weeks, we have sadly lost three of our predecessors: Lise Payette, Bernard Landry and Jean Bienvenue.
The positive impact of their achievements is still felt today.
Lise Payette, Bernard Landry and Jean Bienvenue can inspire us.
Mr. President, by winning the October 1, 2018 election, the CAQ made history by ending 50 years of alternation between Liberal and Parti Québécois governments.
This period of confrontation between sovereignists and federalists marked an entire generation.
The new government advocates a unifying nationalism whose objective is to ensure
the economic development of the Québec nation inside Canada, while
proudly defending its autonomy, language, values and culture.
The election of a new government marks another fundamental change.
We are going to put an end to partisan appointments.
This decades-old practice has shaken Quebecers’ trust.
The hundreds of appointments based solely on political affiliation have demotivated career civil servants and weakened the Québec state.
From now on, competence will be the core criterion.
The appointment of Jacynthe Côté, former President and Chief Executive Officer of Alcan, to the position of Chair of the Board of Directors of Hydro-Québec, perfectly illustrates this principle.
The same is true of the heads of the UPAC, the Sûreté du Québec and the Direction des poursuites criminelles et pénales, who will henceforth be appointed by two-thirds of the votes of the National Assembly.
In this way, such directors will enjoy full independence both in appearance and in fact.
We must put mistrust behind us and restore trust.
This will be the government’s first bill.
Mr. President, no modern State can succeed without a competent, motivated, efficient public service.
As I noted, political appointments have undermined the motivation of public sector employees.
Successive reforms and budgetary instability have shaken professionals in the health and education networks.
Overly rigid management methods and administrative red tape are demoralizing employees and hampering government efficiency.
We must reverse this trend.
I am convinced that dedicated, professional government employees want their skills to serve Quebecers.
The government must liberate the strengths of the public sector by modernizing its management and eliminating administrative red tape.
The government must seek the adherence of public sector employees.
The new government’s approach will engender a major change.
I am determined not to govern for pressure groups, the unions or employers.
We must govern for all Quebecers, especially for families and seniors.
The new government will not be the government of a group or an ideology.
The new government will be the government of Quebecers, your government.
What, in practical terms, does this mean?
It means that the government must constantly bear in mind that it is working for you.
Students must be the focus of our initiatives in education. In the health sector, it is the patients that must concern us.
I invite ministers and government employees to respond to the needs of Quebecers and to act at all times with HUMANITY.
The composition of this assembly marks another major change.
One factor contrasts strongly with the past: the unprecedented number of women present.
Last October, 53 women were elected, a historic high.
We must applaud this advance.
All of the parties and each and every one of us are responsible for this long march toward gender parity.
I would like to take advantage of this opportunity to pay tribute to such efforts.
We had elected 28 women, the biggest number for a government in Québec’s history.
I am proud of this result and am aware of how far we still have to go.
It is with this observation in mind that I have appointed a Cabinet that comprises equal numbers of women and men.
I wanted to send a strong signal to the government overall.
I invite Québec society to do the same.
Our objective must be to make parity the norm.
The government's key priorities are clear: education, the economy and healthcare.
Education is the first key priority that I wish to broach.
For the first time since the 1960s, the future of our children is going to be the core ambition of a government.
Our foremost goal is to give all of our children the means to achieve their full potential.
I am convinced that all of the parties can share this noble ambition.
Obviously, the means to be adopted will be subject to debate.
However, I invite you to not lose sight of the objective.
Education is the future of the Québec nation.
Education enabled Québec to catch up in the 1960s and it will enable us to meet the challenges that await us.
In recent years, love has been lacking in the education system.
Schools have been abandoned.
Children with learning difficulties have been left in limbo. Québec is lagging significantly from the standpoint of school success.
The time has come for Québec to remedy the situation.
First, I would like to pay tribute to the thousands of teachers who have continued, with admirable dedication, to devote themselves to our children.
I would also like to pay tribute to the school principals who have struggled with the means available and entire communities that have taken themselves in hand to ensure success.
The challenges in the education sector are numerous and the efforts that we must make to meet them are substantial.
We will proceed in an orderly manner.
However, we will advance resolutely.
During the election campaign, we committed ourselves to end budgetary instability in the education sector.
Such instability has prevented long-term planning and shaken the entire network. Our electoral financial framework was very clear.
I reiterate this commitment, which is also the commitment of the Minister of Finance and the Chair of the Conseil du trésor: we will increase education funding throughout this legislature.
Even if Québec were to face an economic slowdown, education funding will be protected.
We will protect our children’s future and Québec’s future.
This also marks another major change.
The key to ensuring our young people’s success is to detect very early on children’s learning difficulties and promptly offer them the appropriate services.
This is the main challenge that we must meet.
The Minister for Health and Social Services, the Minister of Education and Higher Education and the Minister of Families must work together in the realm of detection.
I am confident that all of the parties will also work constructively to achieve this end. I do not perceive major political disagreement in this respect.
I believe that we owe it to our children and to future generations to put aside partisan interests to achieve this paramount goal.
There is debate concerning early childhood services.
Some people want us to choose between childcare centres and kindergartens for four-year-olds.
This is a nontroversy.
The government has no intention whatsoever to dismantle or weaken the network of childcare centres.
At present, only a small portion of four-years-olds has the possibility of attending a childcare centre.
The kindergartens for four-year-olds that we are proposing will offer service to thousands of children who do not have such service.
There is no conflict between the childcare centres and the kindergartens for four-year-olds.
To the contrary: the two networks complement each other.
Moreover, this will relieve teachers who are grappling with significant numbers of students with special education needs.
The sooner we take care of children with learning difficulties, the sooner progress will be made.
This will also be a relief for parents.
I have frequently heard expressed by some people the fear that a four-year-old is too young to go to school.
Do not worry: the kindergarten for four-year-olds is based on techniques adapted to young children, in particular play-based learning.
It will not be compulsory.
What I find most disappointing is to hear the defeatist remark that we will not be able within five years to offer services to all four-year-olds.
This stance lacks political will and ambition.
It also lacks boldness and pride.
We are also going to add five hours of presence per week in all secondary schools.
This period will be devoted to sports, the arts and homework assistance.
I am convinced that such activities will help our young people to better succeed.
Your government has the ambition to offer all children the possibility of achieving their potential.
We will meet this challenge in collaboration with the teachers.
First, we will offer them financial stability, which I mentioned earlier.
Next, we will surround them with professionals who can support them.
We will enhance the status of the teaching profession, which should be among the most prestigious in our society.
We will go forward with our commitment to better pay teachers starting their careers.
I am counting on the Minister of Education and Higher Education, who followed this path, to multiply the small gestures that, all things considered, enhance the day-to-day efforts of those who devote themselves to our children.
To achieve this change, we are relying on our teachers, school principals and parents.
Everyday realities are experienced in the schools.
School teams are the best placed to define needs.
The school boards will be transformed into service centres.
School boards and the positions of school trustees will be abolished.
School teams will make the decisions that concern them.
Hundreds of schools need urgent renovations.
We must renovate our schools and build more beautiful ones.
I am not regarded as a dreamer, however I do dream.
I dream that in Québec we have beautiful schools.
I believe that beauty also contributes to success.
An attractive environment promotes a working climate for teachers.
It gives children a taste for learning.
I am not forgetting our colleges and universities, which play a very important role in training and scientific research.
The government believes that higher education is also a lever to create wealth, primarily for students but also for Québec society as a whole.
I insist, in particular, on the need to draw researchers and entrepreneurs closer together. By pooling their strengths, they can innovate and enrich society as a whole.
In the 1960s, Québec gave robust impetus to its development by investing massively in education.
Since then, we have, as a people, made considerable progress.
It is time to set about creating new momentum.
Education is the most important factor of well-being, self-fulfilment and individual and collective wealth.
When we talk about the future of the Québec nation, we are necessarily talking about education. Education will be our government’s number one priority.
The economy, in the broadest sense, will be our second priority.
The new government comprises an unprecedented number of entrepreneurs, managers and former senior executives of large businesses or organizations.
They all share the goal of enriching Québec and Quebecers.
This is not because wealth is an end in itself but instead because it gives us the means to match our ambitions.
By increasing our level of economic strength, we can offer ourselves better public services in education, healthcare, the environment, transportation infrastructure and culture.
By increasing our level of economic strength, we can reduce the overly heavy tax burden of Quebecers.
Once again, we must act boldly.
The new government is ambitious for Québec.
I do not accept that our level of economic strength is inferior to that of our Canadian and American neighbours.
I am convinced that the Québec nation is capable of doing much better in the economic sphere. It is possible to catch up to our neighbours.
Of course, this is a long-term objective that will be spread over several decades.
We must adopt the objective that Québec no longer receives equalization.
I agree that this is a very ambitious objective.
It is a question of autonomy, but also a question of pride.
When we talk about the economy, in the broadest sense, to start with, we are going to help Quebecers, who, in recent years, have been overwhelmed by higher taxes and all manner of fees.
I am thinking, in particular, of middle class families and low-income retirees. The government is going to put money back into Quebecers’ pockets.
Many fathers and mothers have told me about the difficulty of making ends meet at the end of the month.
Families are the foundation of our society.
One absurdity in the current family allowance system means that financial support is lower for second and third children than for the first child.
It is as though the government believed that it costs less to take care of second and third children than the first one.
We are going to change this situation by creating a new program that is simple, more logical and more generous.
Parents will receive higher amounts than at the present time starting with the second child.
I would like to specify that this means all young people under 18 years of age.
We are also going to put money back into the pockets of middle class families with young children who have sustained a fiscal shock through the sudden increase in childcare rates.
Certain parents have paid thousands of dollars more.
These families already pay a significant portion of income tax, which funds subsidized childcare services.
It was totally unfair and unwarranted to demand an additional contribution. We must not reduce the government’s debt by putting families into debt.
The new government is going to change that by abolishing this unfair contribution and restoring a single rate in subsidized day care centres for all families.
Families have also been subjected to school tax increases of over 100% over the past 15 years.
The previous government initiated a change of direction to reduce school taxes in certain regions where the rates varied from one school board to the next.
Unfairness unfortunately persists between the regions.
In the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean and Mauricie regions, for example, property owners pay a school tax rate that is triple the rate elsewhere for the same services.
Once again, this is unfair and unwarranted.
The new government is going to change that by adopting a single school tax rate throughout Québec, the lowest rate.
This significant decrease in the school tax will help young families who wish to purchase their first home.
It will also help retirees whose pensions are not always indexed to the rising cost of living.
We are, therefore, going to remedy an injustice and, by the same token, offer a substantial tax reduction, which will leave more money in Quebecers’ pockets and in the local economy.
We have made these commitments and are going to honour them.
But there is more.
During election campaigns, we have the advantage of being in the field in contact with people.
During this campaign, I was deeply concerned by the heartfelt cry from low-income retirees.
I want to say to these retirees that I heard you and that we are going to promptly help you.
We have the ambition of putting more money back into Quebecers’ pockets.
I should say “leave” Quebecers more money, because it is your money that the government manages.
We are going to do even more as we increase our level of economic strength.
The most powerful means of increasing in the long term our level of economic strength is to better succeed in the realm of education.
Business investment is the other wealth-creation lever.
Business investment will enable us to bolster productivity and create better paid jobs.
Québec has a significant business investment deficit. The government has a role to play in this respect.
We must first alter our ways of doing things in the Ministère de l’Économie and at Investissement Québec.
We must display considerably more boldness.
The Minister of Economy and Innovation is already at work to create a new Investissement Québec that is more agile, determined, ambitious and enterprising.
We must also better match research, innovation, entrepreneurship and beauty.
Five years ago, I launched the idea of the St. Lawrence Project to create innovation zones along the river.
The zones could group together in a beautiful environment a port, a railway hub, a research campus and innovative enterprises.
The government must also implement taxation that fosters business investment.
It must also attribute various permits more efficiently.
The goal is not to reduce requirements but instead to shorten waiting periods.
At the moment, there is a great deal of needless bureaucracy.
It is far too lengthy and tedious.
We must streamline the administrative burden that businesses bear.
I have a message for Québec entrepreneurs.
When I speak of entrepreneurs I am also referring to our agricultural producers and forest producers.
Your government includes dozens of entrepreneurs who know what you are experiencing and want to help you further your investment projects.
Dust off your projects and come and see us.
We will help to you complete them.
Now is the time to invest.
I also have a message for international investors, with whom I have engaged in discussions in Erevan, Boston and Toronto.
The Minister of Economy and Innovation and the Minister of International Relations and La Francophonie will also convey this message: Invest in Québec. We will welcome you with open arms.
Québec’s international relations will place greater emphasis on trade in order to promote our exports.
This starts with our largest trading partner, the United States.
However, the government also wishes to broaden our outstanding relations with France, a privileged gateway to Europe.
Québec, in turn, must become the North American gateway for European businesses.
The government also intends to invest in the French-speaking countries, for example in Africa, to broaden trade.
It is also possible to increase our exports to Mexico.
Québec must do more to help Québec firms access the vast Asian market.
To enhance our level of economic strength, we must export more extensively and diversify our markets.
We must look overseas but must not overlook our Canadian neighbours.
The government must maximize trade with the Canadian provinces and we are going to get down to work.
I have also started to promote our proposed Energy Alliance with the other provinces.
We must convince the New England and northeastern American states to take advantage of Québec’s abundant, affordable green energy.
All of our neighbours are grappling with electricity supply or greenhouse gas reduction challenges to combat climate change.
Against this backdrop, we must regard Québec as the battery of North America. Québec has the potential to become an energy superpower.
We can help our neighbours to reduce their supply costs and replace coal, gas and nuclear power with clean energy.
Our electricity gives us the potential to contribute to making the northeastern United States a more competitive, greener region, a win-win for Québec and its neighbours.
Our clean energy must also attract private investments here in Québec.
Data centres, manufacturing industries, agricultural production in greenhouses and many other sectors come to mind.
As pressure grows to reduce GHG emissions in the world, Québec’s clean energy will become a key factor in investment decisions.
As we increase our electricity sales and, therefore, eliminate our surpluses, we will have to revive power generation.
We will proceed in an orderly manner.
First, we will focus on energy efficiency, which is the cheapest solution.
We must help our businesses become more efficient and help Québec families to reduce their electricity bills.
Next, we will focus on wind power. It is now possible to build competitively priced wind turbines.
When the need arises, we will go forward.
Major power dams can be built once we have concluded export contracts with our neighbours.
It is our government’s bold vision to achieve collective prosperity through our clean energy and do so for the benefit of Quebecers, our neighbours, the Aboriginal nations and the environment.
However, to develop our economy, we must also respond to the manpower shortage that has hit certain industries.
We must respond in several ways.
For a start, we must better match training with the needs of businesses.
We must also encourage older individuals who wish to work part time to do so without being penalized by the tax system.
For some observers, immigration is the only solution, regardless of our capacity to integrate immigrants.
If the existing policy was viable we would know it.
However, the policy has not prevented the scarcity of workers, especially in the regions.
Immigration is certainly part of the solution, but we must change course.
The first change consists in better matching the selection criteria respecting immigrants with the needs of Québec businesses and public organizations.
The Minister of Immigration and the Minister of Employment are already focusing on such matching.
Priority will also be given to would-be immigrants who already have an employer-employee relationship with a Québec firm.
The priority will be even higher for jobs in the regions.
We will also establish an accelerated process for those who wish to change their status from foreign workers to immigrants.
These are concrete gestures that will enable us to quickly satisfy our needs.
To succeed in doing so, we will have to rely on the collaboration of the federal government to accelerate the arrival of foreign workers.
The new government will attach as much importance to the regions as to major centres.
To help the regions develop their economies, we are going to reverse the centralization that has occurred in recent years.
We will adopt a plan to transfer government jobs to the regions.
We will also review Investissement Québec’s role in order to create more jobs in the regions.
We will adopt a plan to install high-speed Internet service throughout Québec.
Another condition for our collective prosperity is sound public finances.
Québec’s public finances are sound but at the cost of an excessive tax burden, much heavier than that of our neighbours.
We can do better from the standpoint of management.
The Chair of the Conseil du trésor is already at work.
Each minister has a mandate to maximize the use of public funds and I am asking all government employees to do the same.
To Quebecers I say that each of your hard-earned dollars that the government manages counts.
I am thinking, by way of an example, of the project overseen by the Minister for Government Digital Transformation.
For far too many years, the Québec government has employed the information technologies in administrative silos by multiplying little digital kingdoms in each government department and body.
We must realize that this approach is very inefficient and costly.
Quebecers are not getting their money’s worth and services do not meet their expectations.
The government intends to implement a genuine governmental digital revolution that will generate substantial savings and make it possible to offer Quebecers much more efficient services.
This conversion is essential.
From the standpoint of management, we must also fully understand that we have to minimize the debt that we leave for future generations.
All governments since the government of Lucien Bouchard have followed the path that we adopted at the time, with the result that the public debt-to-GDP ratio has ceased to increase. The government must pursue this course.
Your government therefore intends to manage finances responsibly by avoiding deficits and continuing to reduce the public debt burden.
To conclude this review of the economy and finances, I would like to come back to the agreement with medical specialists.
I would first like to repeat that, like the vast majority of Quebecers, I have great respect for our physicians, the quality of care and their high degree of professionalism.
On the other hand, the level of remuneration of medical specialists must be faire in relation to that of other Québec workers.
Québec workers, including healthcare workers, have a negative wage disparity with their counterparts in the other provinces.
We have agreed with the medical specialists’ union to assign a mandate to
an independent organization to compare their remuneration with that of their counterparts in the other provinces.
The government will make adjustments based on the study’s findings.
Québec must thus meet a daunting economic challenge: achieve the level of economic strength of its neighbours. However, at the same time, we must meet another challenge: the survival of our planet is at stake. I cannot overlook the urgent challenge that climate change poses and continue to look my two sons in the eye.
Boldness in this field consists in taking a hard look at reality and rolling up our sleeves, despite the colossal scope of the challenge that we are facing.
Unfortunately, with respect to greenhouse gas emissions, Québec’s situation is indeed gloomy. The latest inventory of greenhouse gas emissions in Québec dates from 2015.
It revealed that since 1990 Québec had reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by only 8.8%, while the objective for 2020 is 20%.
We have not found any serious plan from the previous government to attain the 2020 objective.
Worse still, we have noted the deficient management of the Green Fund, without performance indicators and without results measurement.
To start with, we need to precisely ascertain Québec's recent status.
At what stage are we today in GHG reduction?
I have mandated a team to prepare a status report as soon as possible.
Once we have the report, we can examine the best ways of reducing our GHG emissions.
Will it be possible to achieve the targets set for 2020?
No one has the information to answer this question.
However, we cannot wait and the government will take steps to reduce GHG emissions in Québec.
We will continue to rely on the carbon market with California.
We will also invest significantly in mass transit and, above all, ensure that projects are completed.
We no longer wish to see projects such as the extension of the blue line of the Montréal Métro drag on for years and years.
These investments will benefit Quebecers, who will be able to travel more efficiently and comfortably, while reducing congestion and pollution.
Such structuring investments will benefit Québec businesses because we will impose a minimum of 25% local content in transportation equipment.
We must also accelerate transportation electrification, including trains, buses, trucks and cars.
In addition to reducing our GHG emissions, transportation electrification will enrich us by replacing oil imports with clean electricity generated in Québec.
Mass transit and electrification are two sectors in which economic growth and combating climate change go hand in hand and serve Quebecers’ interests.
The same logic applies to the decontamination of land along the river in the east end of Montréal and in several regions of Québec.
We must decontaminate and develop this land.
This will both restore the environment and create wealth through innovation zones that draw closer together Québec entrepreneurs and researchers.
If we seriously wish to combat climate change, we must avoid ideological thinking whereby all construction projects are harmful.
I have an example in mind: the third link.
Québec City has a structuring mass transit project: the streetcar.
The project is exciting and we support it, but part of the puzzle is missing, namely,
a connection with the South Shore.
The connection, the third link, should have been built decades ago.
We propose remedying this mistake and taking advantage of it to interconnect the two shores by means of mass transit.
Unfortunately, some individuals have decided to make it an anti-environmental, ideological symbol.
The government has made a commitment to Québec City residents and we will go forward.
The third link will complete Québec City’s structuring mass transit project and reduce congestion on the South Shore and the distances covered by heavy goods vehicles.
Far from wanting to mar the Île d’Orléans, we can imagine dismantling Hydro-Québec’s pylons that spoil the landscape and run the electrical cables along the third link.
We can make the third link a bogeyman and a foil or make it a sustainable development project that enables us to build a genuine structuring transportation system for both shores and embellish the landscape, as is this government’s intention.
Healthcare is obviously one of our three top priorities.
In this field, our objective is to enable Quebecers to promptly see a physician, a nurse or a pharmacist when they are ill.
This should be self-evident, although such is not the case.
Healthcare network staff has been sorely put to the test in recent years and Quebecers no longer believe in the network.
The Minister of Health and Social Services and his team will avoid structural changes, needless upheavals and big promises.
We will advance one step at a time, hand in hand with healthcare professionals and we will concretely improve the situation.
First, the government will get down to bolstering front-line care.
We must encourage family physicians to assume responsibility for their patients and delegate more medical procedures to other health professionals in the family medicine groups, or FMGs.
The government is going to negotiate a new method of remuneration with family physicians, who will receive fewer fee-for-service payments and additional remuneration for patient management.
Strong front-line care also means additional homecare and services.
The government is going to invest rapidly in them.
These changes will ensure that patients do not needlessly saturate emergency services.
Québec has hundreds of thousands of heroes of everyday life who care with extraordinary dedication for seniors experiencing a loss of autonomy or their disabled children, some of them severely disabled.
What is more, such heroes, often heroines, bear a demanding burden.
The Minister Responsible for Seniors and Informal Caregivers has made me aware of this situation.
Your government is going to help you by funding respite homes and adopting a province-wide policy respecting informal caregivers.
For the parents of severely disabled children, I reiterate our commitment to help you more extensively.
The government is also determined to instil a sense of humanism in the care given to seniors and the youngest patients in residential and long-term care centres.
I would like to pay tribute to the essential work of orderlies.
Your government will accelerate the renovation of establishments that can be renovated and increase the number of orderlies.
For the future, given our ageing population, we must prepare ourselves and imagine a more human, modern model that is better adapted to long-term care.
Such an establishment must promote the best care and a work environment that is better adapted for staff.
Seniors’ homes are the project of a generation.
The government will define this model with specialists, users and staff and then implement it.
Among the public health questions that concern us, there is also the legalization of cannabis.
The government has decided to adopt in this respect a public health approach that seeks primarily to protect young people.
Your government is preparing a bill that will set at 21 the legal age and prohibit cannabis smoking in public venues.
Education, the economy and health are our three top priorities.
Several other challenges are also monopolizing the government’s attention.
First, there is the question of secularism of the state and religious signs.
This question has dragged on for over 10 years.
Quebecers have had enough.
They want the question to be resolved and our commitment in this respect has been very clear for a long time.
Government employees in positions of authority, including elementary and secondary school teachers, will be prohibited from wearing religious signs.
This is a reasonable position.
We are going to be very firm in this regard and we intend to act rapidly.
In connection with immigration, I would like to clarify one thing from the outset.
To my knowledge, all of the elected representatives in the National Assembly are in favour of immigration. Quebecers are an open, welcoming people.
We must debate immigration calmly and serenely and avoid the outrageous accusations that we have all too often heard in recent years.
We must avoid looking down scornfully on the Québec population’s legitimate anxiety.
The government has committed itself to better integrate immigrants summarized thus in the following formula: accept fewer immigrants but take care of them.
The objective is clear: we wish to reduce the immigration thresholds to have the means to better integrate immigrants into the labour market and the French-speaking majority and to ensure that they share Québec values, especially gender equality.
Speaking of our language and values, I want to talk to you about culture.
Culture is the soul of a people.
Culture is part of what we are.
Culture is part of the joy of living.
Québec culture makes us proud.
Culture is also an important economic driving force in all regions of Québec and an outstanding showcase for Québec in the world.
We are facing several challenges in the realm of Justice.
The first challenge consists in accelerating the administration of justice to avoid unreasonable delays by modernizing the system by funding it properly.
The second challenge consists in broadening access to justice for middle-class Quebecers, those who are not wealthy enough to pay to defend themselves but not sufficiently destitute to have access to legal aid.
The third major challenge is family law, which must be completely reformed to take into account contemporary realities.
The Minister of Justice is already focusing on the three questions and she can count on my support.
It is very important for Quebecers to have confidence in and access to the justice system.
The other challenge is the mixed proportional electoral system.
Quebecers want the parties to collaborate further. Such a reform has the potential to alter the political culture in a positive way by mitigating partisanship.
We have committed ourselves to tabling a bill in the first year of our mandate to amend the voting system.
The time limit is short and the Minister of Justice is already at work.
We intend to fulfil this commitment and to work in good faith with the MNAs from the other parties.
What is guiding us is the closer alignment of elected representatives and votes cast, balanced with the weight of the regions and the stability of future governments.
This reform, which affects the functioning of our democracy, requires a political consensus.
I therefore invite the opposition MNAs to work constructively with the government in a spirit of mutual good faith.
Mr. President, MNAs, we have a lot to do.
In the coming years, we will certainly have lively, occasionally very intense debates. However, let us remember one thing: what we share is more important than what divides us.
We represent Quebecers and are all working for them.
I say again to Quebecers: we make up your government.
We have a formidable enemy: fear.
Fear of being incapable.
Fear of making mistakes.
Fear of change.
This feeling is human, very human.
We must overcome it by pitting pride and boldness against it.
Yes, pride and boldness. That is what is going to guide YOUR government.