Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard says Liberal win good news for province

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard says he's looking forward to a new relationship with the federal government following the election of the Liberal Party under Justin Trudeau.

Liberal governments now in place in both Quebec City and Ottawa

Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, left, looks at Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard as they meet at the premier's office in Quebec City in May 2014. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard says he's looking forward to a new relationship with the federal government following the election of the Liberal Party under Justin Trudeau.

​Speaking to reporters in Quebec City, Couillard said Quebecers are in a renewed position of strength within the Canadian government.

He believes Quebec will have a more active partner in the federal government to help him advance the interests of Quebecers.

"I think this leadership position, this position of strength, is what we gaining first," Couillard said.

He's looking forward to a change in tone on the environment, health transfer payments, and more frequent meetings between Ottawa and the provinces.

Trudeau made big gains in Quebec on Monday night, winning 40 seats compared to the seven in the last election. 

Climate and sovereignty

The premier hopes a Liberal government will set more ambitious goals for the reduction of greenhouse gases before a global climate change conference in December in Paris.

He played down the gains by the separatist Bloc Québécois, saying 80 per cent of Quebecers nonetheless voted for parties that want to keep the province a province, which is a blow to the sovereignty movement.

"Why? Because our youth is losing interest in that project and this was very obvious yesterday," he said.

He also took aim at Parti Québécois leader Pierre-Karl Péladeau, who campaigned for the Bloc. 

"Mr. Péladeau has only been speaking on behalf of sovereignists. He's not speaking for all Quebecers. His only goal in life is to achieve his idea which is very bad for Canada."

Péladeau responds

In a Facebook post, Péladeau said the Liberal victory was a rejection of Stephen Harper's Conservatives, not of sovereignist values.

"One should not see a negation of the will of Quebecers to affirm themselves as a nation and as a country," he wrote. 

"I wouldn't read into the result too much."

Read his full post below (in French).

Marijuana and safe injection sites

On the Liberal plan to legalize marijuana, Couillard said a discussion is needed on legalization versus decriminalization, and stressed strong regulation at the provincial level.

He also hoped the Liberals will approve plans for safe injection sites for intravenous drug users in Montreal.

"I have always been in favour of this. The evidence is overwhelming," Couillard said.

Asked whether he thinks the Conservative defeat was a public rejection of identity politics centred on the Muslim niqab, Couillard said this doesn't change his party's stance.

The Quebebc Liberals still want to pass a law saying government services must be given with an uncovered face.

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