François Legault promises to govern for 'all Quebecers'

"Today, we're not just forming a CAQ government. We are forming a government for all Quebecers," François Legault said after being sworn in as premier.

New CAQ premier forms gender-balanced cabinet, emphasizes education, health care

Quebec Premier François Legault, right, reacts after he and his cabinet were sworn in during a ceremony at the National Assembly on Thursday. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

François Legault was sworn in as Quebec's premier on Thursday, officially launching a new era in provincial politics. 

Legault said the economy, education and health care will be priorities for the first-ever Coalition Avenir Québec government.

"Today, we're not just forming a CAQ government. We are forming a government for all Quebecers," he said following the swearing-in ceremony by Lt.-Gov. J. Michel Doyon.

He also said he would follow through on his pledge to ensure the secularism of the state, banning the wearing of religious symbols by civil servants in positions of authority.

And he promised to do more to fight "against global warming," despite serious concerns among environmentalists that his policies, including building more suburban roads, would fail to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

13 men, 13 women

Legault's cabinet consists of 13 men and 13 women, fulfilling a campaign promise to have a gender-balanced cabinet. Only two of them have previously held a cabinet position  (one of them being Legault himself, under the Parti Québécois).

Among those taking on key roles in the CAQ government is Danielle McCann, the former head of Montreal's regional public health authority.

Éric Girard, who worked at the National Bank for 25 years, will be finance minister, and Jean-François Roberge, a former school teacher, will serve as education minister.

There is no anglophone voice at the cabinet table. 

Christopher Skeete, an anglophone and the MNA for Sainte-Rose in Laval, has been appointed a parliamentary assistant to the premier and will be in charge of the secretariat for relations with English-speaking Quebecers.

It's not a cabinet position, but Skeete will report directly to Legault, who has named himself officially responsible for relations with English-speaking Quebecers.

In his speech, Legault said he would govern in a "respectful manner toward the historical" English community.

He also said he planned to meet soon with Indigenous leaders to establish improved relations.

The CAQ swept to power in the Oct. 1 election, winning 74 seats in the 125-seat legislature. That gives them a comfortable majority over the Opposition Liberals, who have 29 seats.

This is the first time since 1970 — nearly half a century — that Quebec is governed by a party other than the Liberals or PQ.