Quebec Liberal leadership candidates tackle corruption in 2nd debate

The three candidates for Quebec's Liberal Party leadership took part in the second of five debates to determine who will succeed Jean Charest.

Candidates also debated federalism and constitution

Couillard, Moreau and Bachand will be taking part in an English debate on Jan. 26. (CBC)

The three candidates for Quebec's Liberal Party leadership took part in the second of five debates to determine who will succeed Jean Charest.

Remaining debates

Jan. 26 - Montreal - English debate on all topics.

Jan. 27 - Gatineau - How to better help those who need it most?

Feb. 2 - Rimouski - How to better develop our economy?

The theme of today's debate was "how to better govern?" — Philippe Couillard, Pierre Moreau and Raymond Bachand were asked to discuss the ongoing anti-corruption inquiry and ways to fight corruption and collusion in the awarding of public contracts.

Moreau argued the commission should be permanent, while Couillard said it should have been introduced earlier.

Bachand said cities should rotate between municipal investigators and eliminate the lowest-bidder rule.  

He said municipal investigators should rotate through different municipalities and eliminate the lowest-bidder rule.

Several testimonies at the Charbonneau commission have detailed an ongoing collusion scheme between certain construction firms.

According to witnesses, a controlled bidding system was put in place to rig public work contracts handled by the City of Montreal and other municipalities.

Federalism and constitution

During the second part of the debate, the candidates were asked to discuss their impressions on federalism and Quebec's position within Canada.

Despite supporting Quebec's partnership with the federal government, all three candidates said the federal system could be improved.

Bachand reiterated his fondness for Quebec's partnership with Canada's federal government.

He said the previous Charest government managed to improve the province's economy with support from the Harper administration. Bachand said it is essential to have bilingual judges at the Supreme Court of Canada.

When asked about whether Quebec should sign the Canadian constitution, Couillard said the conversation will have to take place eventually. He insisted that Quebec be recognized for its distinct character.

Couillard said he does not believe traditional values differ between Quebec and the rest of Canada.

He said he hopes the province regains its leading status within the nation. Moreau said a society that is not satisfied with its government has the responsibility to change it rather than change the entire country.

He said he believes Quebec will have to sign the constitution.

He said Quebecers know there are no real consequences for not signing it. During the first debate last week, the three former cabinet ministers took the time to introduce their main agendas.

While Couillard promises to focus on education, Bachand said he plans to improve Quebec's economy.

Moreau said his main agenda revolved around youth.

The candidates will debate in English on Jan. 26 in Montreal.

Jean Charest's successor will be elected on March 17.