Montreal – “We have done an outstanding job together. We now have a clear vision of the future to offer Quebecers. A vision for today’s Quebec, a vision for the Quebec of 2020! The vision of a Quebec acting with complete freedom. This is what we propose to Quebecers: to regain the control of our future!” Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois said yesterday in her closing speech of the XVIth national convention before 1,700 delegates and close to 200 national and international guests.
“Federalists no longer have anything to offer Quebec. We will set our rights as a people in a Quebec constitution. We will adopt a charter to assert the secular nature of the Quebec state. And if Canada wants to put a spoke in our wheel with its colonial relics and its arbitrary justice, Quebecers will judge!” said Pauline Marois. At the close of the convention, the Plan for a Sovereign Quebec became Article 1 of the new Parti Québécois program. It is a plan that breaks with a wait-and-see policy and states what a sovereignist government will be.
To get out of the unsavoury atmosphere Quebec has experienced under a Liberal government, the convention passed a number of resolutions aimed at cleaning up politics in Quebec. “We are proposing tight rules on the financing of political parties and governance of the state and municipal administrations. And above all, we’ll go right to the bottom of the situation. We will launch this inquiry commission the whole of Quebec has been calling for! I will do it!”said the Parti Québécois leader. The convention also adopted many other proposals, including one limiting the mandates of the premier and mayors of towns of 5,000 or more inhabitants.
The new program is heavily slanted towards a clear predominance of French, particularly by extending to CEGEPs the provisions of the French language charter. “We will defend our language and our culture with vigour. Bill 101 will be rewritten and strengthened. The language of work; the language of education; the language of the administration; French is – and will remain – the common language of all Quebecers!” claimed Pauline Marois. The teaching of our national history will also be a majorpolicy of a sovereignist government.
The creation of wealth was also a central issue at the convention. “Quebec must regain control of its economy. We will do it and put Quebec back on the path of wealth creation for all! We will repatriate all federal economic development programs that we fund with our taxes and group them together in a Quebec Economic Development Bank. And if Ottawa tries to block us, Quebecers will judge!” Mrs. Marois said. “We will also review the royalties paid by companies exploiting our natural resources. For hydrocarbons, our terms are clear: at least half the benefits must be returned to Quebecers. And if to achieve this, the public needs to take a share in those corporations, we will certainly not hesitate. Why should we? Quebec’s natural resources belong first and foremost to Quebecers.”
Pauline Marois also insisted on “the urgency of launching a big project that will define Quebec for generations to come: energy independence. We will make of Quebec an environment model and a North American leader of green energy. We will reduce our dependence on oil that pollutes and impoverishes us. The development of alternative energies will be a priority and the electrification of transportation will become a reality! We have a very ambitious plan, worthy of the 21st century, and the young will carry it through. We will regain control of our energy and our environment, we will build a green and blue Quebec!”
Pauline Marois said we need to regain control by putting social programs back in the service of Quebecers. “Our watchword will be accessibility. Our young people will have access to quality education, equal opportunities. In the Parti Québécois, we have figured out how many places Quebec needs in day-care centres. The answer is simple: one child, one place! We will tackle very concretely the dropping out of school. We will reduce the size of classrooms, encourage the success of boys and support community initiatives to keep the young in school. We will have private schools do their share to support children who are handicapped or have learning difficulties. Also, the time has come to have a major discussion in Quebec to solve the under-financing of our universities. We will not accept that Quebec students be the only ones to do their share. There are many in this room who have benefited from our system, I am a case in point: our priority will be to preserve access for the new generations.”
“In health services, our doctors will have the support of the other professionals within the groups of family medicine and Quebecers will no longer have to waste their time in emergency rooms. We will give our nurses the resources they need to practise their profession. Our pharmacists will have autonomy to make life easier for Quebecers. We will give our elders access to home care,” said Pauline Marois.
“Over the past decades, we have also lost control of our state that got bogged down in bureaucracy. We will do away with the bureaucracy. And I may point out to Quebecers that no party is more ambitious than ours in this regard,” said the Parti Québécois leader.
“We had an historic convention this weekend. We are coming out more united than ever before and with a vision tailored for Quebecers. We will now prepare to replace Jean Charest’s Liberal government. Our fellow citizens have since Friday seen a party that is dynamic, full of life, and whose only master is Quebec and its interest. They have seen that the Parti Québécois will be able to meet their expectations and rebuild the bond of trust between Quebecers and their government,” concluded Pauline Marois at the end of a convention that gave her an unprecedented 93.08% vote of confidence.
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Source: Parti Québécois
Information: Manuel Dionne, press attaché, 514 207-8303