Quebec Liberals tout strong economy at party meeting ahead of October election

Philippe Couillard says the ruling Liberal party has "proven itself," and it will defend Quebec's economic interests in the face of instability in the U.S., as it seeks to project confidence ahead of the Oct. 1 election.

Philippe Couillard says Liberal party has proven itself and will defend Quebec's economic interests

Philippe Couillard said his government's investments in an anglophone affairs secretariat aimed to keep young English speakers in the province. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

Quebec's economy was front and centre, as Philippe Couillard sought to rally his Liberal party supporters Saturday in the last major meeting ahead of the election in October.

Speaking in front of a blue backdrop emblazoned with the phrase, "A Strong Team," the premier urged Quebecers to stick with the Liberals, which he said had brought the province's economy to new heights.

"Together we changed Quebec," Couillard told the crowd.

The Liberals projected confidence as they sought to present themselves as a renewed team, as party members, candidates and MNAs discussed their election platform at the meeting held in Montreal.

They also unveiled a new promise to offer free daycare for four-year-old children at public and private daycare centres.

Trailing in recent polls

However, the party knows it may have a tough road ahead.

The latest opinion polls showed the Liberals slightly trailing the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ), headed by François Legault.

Published in April, the results showed the Liberals with 29 to 30 per cent support in the province, compared with between 30 and 34 per cent for the CAQ.

Still, Couillard said his government is the best suited to defend Quebec's interests in the face of political instability in America.

He referred to President Donald Trump's decision to impose tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum imports, saying the Liberals will "defend the economic interests of Quebec, our workers and our families."

The Quebec Liberal party's elections chairman, Alexandre Taillefer, said the work of Premier Philippe Couillard is not over. (Cathy Senay/CBC)

"I believe in actions that bring long-term benefits," said the party's elections chairman, Alexandre Taillefer, who also spoke at the meeting Saturday.

"I want to tell Quebecers that you don't change a pilot in the middle of a complex operation," he said, to loud applause.

Appeal to anglophone youth

Switching to English, Couillard made an appeal to anglophone youth in the province.

He said his government's decision to appoint a minister responsible for relations with English-speaking Quebecers, Kathleen Weil, and fund an anglophone secretariat, aimed to "keep our young anglophones in Quebec."

"Your roots are here. We need you. We need your talent. This is your home. We want you to build your careers and your families here, in Quebec, with us," Couillard said.

With files from CBC's Cathy Senay