New minister responsible for the Outaouais outlines his priorities

After being named minister responsible for the Outaouais, newly elected Papineau MNA Mathieu Lacombe says he wants a new hospital and wider Highway 50.

Mathieu Lacombe says the region has been neglected

Papineau MNA Mathieu Lacombe was welcomed to cabinet Thursday with a little help from his two children. 0:56

After being named minister responsible for the Outaouais, newly elected Papineau MNA Mathieu Lacombe outlined his priorities for the region.

Lacombe said his Coalition Avenir Québec government plans to bring the western Quebec region to equal footing with other areas of the province.

"The Outaouais has been taken for granted by governments and we need that to change," he told CBC's Ottawa Morning.

Lacombe said he will push for a new hospital in the region and the expansion of Highway 50 from two lanes to four, although he did not say when he expects either to happen.

He will also be the minister responsible for families.

Banning of religious symbols

When asked about a controversial proposal from his party that would ban religious symbols, Lacombe said his personal beliefs were irrelevant.

"My opinion in this is not important," he said.

The newly elected CAQ majority is promising to introduce a law prohibiting civil servants from wearing religious symbols in the workplace.

He's the Quebec Government's Minister in Charge of the Outaouais and Minister for Families. We meet Mathieu Lacombe, freshly-minted MLA for Papineau. 9:15

Lacombe said what is important is that his party is following through on a promise they made during the campaign.

"For years people didn't believe governments or politicians when they were saying something in the public space," he said.

"I know people are surprised now … but we will do what we said during the campaign."

Philosopher Charles Taylor — a co-author of the report frequently cited by the CAQ as justification for its controversial plan — recently lambasted the new government, saying they completely missed the point of the report.

Lacombe dismissed Taylor's criticisms saying that his government has a mandate to proceed with their plans.

"We spoke a lot on this subject during the campaign, so I think people made their decision."

The CAQ's propsal would go further than the Quebec Liberals' religious neutrality law, which is already the subject of a constitutional challenge.

Premier François Legault said he would invoke the notwithstanding clause to enforce the CAQ's legislation.