Montreal

Ex-PQ minister launches coalition

Former Parti Québécois cabinet minister François Legault is championing economic development over independence in a new political group that's creating a buzz in Quebec.
Former Parti Québécois cabinet minister François Legault is championing economic development over independence in a new political group that's creating a buzz in Quebec.

The Coalition for the Future of Quebec is a "working group" that includes business leaders and politicians who want to foster debate on public policy issues like education and debt reduction.

Quebec needs to shelve its eternal sovereignty debate if it wants to prosper, Legault told reporters at a news conference Monday, where he outlined his coalition's manifesto.

"Right now, the population is not ready to vote for the sovereignty of Quebec. And Canada and Quebec are not ready to reopen the constitution. We cannot wait forever and be divided," he told reporters at a news conference Monday.

Former PQ cabinet minister François Legault was joined by businessman Charles Sirois at a news conference detailing their coalition's raison d' être. ((Canadian Press))
Flanked by prominent businessman Charles Sirois, Legault said his coalition has room for people of all political stripes.

"Charles is a bit federalist, and you know, I was a bit sovereigntist, and so we work together."

The coalition wants to move beyond traditional party divisions to tackle pressing public interest topics.

Quebec should focus on overhauling its education system, increase teachers' salaries, and devolve decision-making power from school boards to schools, Legault said.

If teachers were better paid, the profession would gain prestige, which has a trickle-down effect, he believes.

"When I see my kids right now, who prefer to go [into] engineering, or accounting, or to be lawyers, because the pay is betTer, I say it's important, and it's key in Quebec to attract the best as teachers."

The coalition sees potential savings by cutting school boards back, and transferring more power to individual institutions.

Opposition group Action Démocratique du Québec has in the past proposed to abolish school boards.

ADQ Leader Gérard Deltell said he welcomed a coalition of ideas, but insists his party is the only viable political alternative to the ruling Liberals and opposition PQ.

The coalition emerges in the Quebec political scene as scandal-plagued Premier Jean Charest faces rampant allegations of corruption and unethical practices.

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