On October 19th, 2021, the Premier of Quebec, François Legault, gave an opening speech to begin a new parliamentary session following the prorogation of the National Assembly at the end of last week.
The purpose of this exercise is to establish a new legislative agenda and a new vision for the CAQ government in view of the elections of October 3, 2022.
With last week’s prorogation, all unfinished parliamentary business (bills and committee business) technically died on the order paper. However, the government tabled a motion to retain all bills from the previous session and resume work where they left off. Thus, the bills on the French language (bill 96), the omnibus bill on the environment (bill 102) and that on the reduction of administrative formalities (bill 103) have been reintroduced in the new session.
In his opening speech, Prime Minister Legault set out his vision and priorities for the home stretch of his term, stating that “things must change and cannot go back to what they were before the pandemic, we must look to the future.” Mr. Legault’s vision for the future of Quebec revolves around four pillars: reshaping the health network, improving services for young people, increasing the local production of goods, and promoting and protecting Quebec values and the French language. He also said his government would focus on the regions.
Mr. Legault insisted on highlighting the following priorities (further details should be unveiled in the coming weeks or months):
- Public Health emergency: will be lifted after vaccination of 5-11 year olds.
- Decentralization of the health network: extensive decentralization of the network to the regions of Quebec.
- Health data: optimization of the use of digital technologies (eg telemedicine), computerization of the network and access to reliable data.
- Cybersecurity: creation of a cybersecurity and digital ministry.
- Accelerate the digital transformation of government: implement secure practices, decompartmentalize government databases.
- Digital identity: create digital citizenship to access public services (for example, a digital driver’s license or a health insurance card on the phone).
- High speed Internet: The Prime Minister reiterated that all Quebecers will have access to high speed Internet before the next election.
- Labor shortage: it will strive to add 100,000 skilled workers in technology, engineering and construction sectors, and support automation.
- Immigration: The Quebec government will continue to fight for its powers in the area of immigration.
- Fight against climate change: put an end to all oil and gas extraction / exploration in Quebec.
- Green transport platforms: creation in Quebec of world centers for electric transport, batteries for electric vehicles and green hydrogen.
- Critical and Strategic Minerals: will encourage the extraction and processing of MCS in the province.
- Innovation zones: the selected zones will be announced shortly.
- Create Quebec multinationals: support the growth of local businesses in their export efforts.
- French language: continue to defend and promote French through Law 96.
- First Nations: work as partners in a nation-to-nation dialogue and continue to fight racism.
The government is now expected to present an economic update in November (often described as a “mini-budget”), followed by its fourth and final budget in March. The National Assembly is expected to rise before the end of June, before the official launch of the electoral campaign in late summer.
Mr. Legault is currently in a good position to win the next election, as the latest polls indicate unprecedented support for the CAQ (47% of voting intentions), the Liberals, Quebec Solidaire and the PQ being far behind (20%, 11% and 11% respectively).