Quebec's new slate of opposition legislators was sworn in Tuesday at the national assembly, where they pledged to co-operate with the new Parti Québécois minority government where possible and not merely obstruct.
"We accept that we're in this together. We will collaborate, we will propose things," interim Opposition leader Jean-Marc Fournier said in brief remarks after his Liberal caucus members took their oath of office Tuesday afternoon.
Fournier was the first MNA from the Official Opposition benches to take the oath, which includes a pledge of allegiance to the Queen and to the people of Quebec. The members of the PQ caucus took their oaths on Monday, and the Coalition Avenir Québec on Tuesday morning.
Liberal MNAs Yolande James and Kathleen Weil pronounced theirs in French and in English.
Québec Solidaire's two MNAs, Amir Khadir et Françoise David, will take their oaths of office on Sept. 26, once Khadir returns from a trip abroad.
The Canadian flag was back in the national assembly's upper chamber, or Red Room, for Tuesday's ceremonies. As has been the tradition for the last 27 years, since former premier Robert Bourassa first had the Maple Leaf placed in the upper chamber, the flag has been there and gone again over the last few days, depending on which party was using the room.
Just before the Liberals were sworn in, their outgoing finance minister, Raymond Bachand, left little doubt that he will run to replace exiting party leader Jean Charest. Charest announced his resignation from the Liberal leadership the day after the party lost the Sept. 4 election and he lost his own seat in Sherbrooke.
"When the time comes to make an announcement, it will be a significant one," Bachand said.
His caucus colleagues Yves Bolduc and Pierre Moreau, as well as former health minister Philippe Couillard, have all been touted as possible candidates to lead the Liberals.
Legault commits to 'debate respectfully'
After his CAQ caucus was sworn in Tuesday morning, party leader François Legault sounded the same co-operative tones that Fournier pronounced later in the day.
When the government proposes something worthwhile, Legault avowed, the CAQ will support it.
"It's OK to be tough, but we're not at war," he said. "You have to debate respectfully. And you avoid just systematically opposing, automatically opposing."
Legault said he sees common interest between his party and the minority PQ government on issues including the economy, education, health and ethics. "If the government acts on these four priority areas, it will have our support."
That's a distinctly different approach than his several stern declarations during the recent election campaign that his party could not co-operate with a "corrupt" Liberal Party nor a PQ with its "hands tied by unions."
"We'll never come to any agreements with the Parti Québécois," Legault said Aug. 1. He repeated 2½ weeks later that "all the changes we want to make to reduce bureaucracy won't be possible with the PQ" in power, and threatened to trigger the fall of a minority government and new elections "sooner rather than later."
The CAQ has 19 MNAs to the Liberals' 50, the PQ's 54 and Québec Solidaire's two.
Premier-designate Pauline Marois's cabinet will be announced and sworn in to their executive offices on Wednesday afternoon.