Montreal

Landry defends PQ's handling of the <I>Caisse</I>

Premier Bernard Landry is defending the <I>Caisse de D&#233;p&#244;t</I> and his government's handling of the Quebec pension fund.

Premier Bernard Landry is defending the Caisse de Dépôt and his government's handling of the Quebec pension fund.

In Ste-Thérèse on Sunday, Landry told supporters that, despite what the Liberals and the Action Démocratique du Québec may say, the province's pension fund has maintained its triple-A credit rating from U.S. rating agency Standard & Poors.

Although Landry ignored opposition attacks in the first week of the campaign, the concerted push by both opposition leaders forced Landry onto the defensive on the Caisse de Dépôt, which posted $8.5 billion in losses.

The Caisse de Dépôt is under investigation by the auditor general for losses at its Montreal Mode branch and for cost overruns incurred in building new headquarters.

On Sunday, Finance Minister Pauline Marois announced she'll release the report on Montreal Mode as soon as its ready.

The report on the headquarters may not be released until after the election.

Early Sunday, Premier Landry tried to convince reporters the auditor can release that report when she wants.

However, after checking, Landry's staff later confirmed that Quebecers won't see the report on the ballooning cost of the Caisse de Dépôt headquarters because of a technicality in the way Landry ordered the report.

It can't be tabled until the National Assembly resumes sitting after the election.

Bigger civil service?

Premier Landry says if he's re-elected the province's civil service could get bigger.

Landry told reporters he's willing to create new jobs in the provincial government to fulfill his promise at last year's Summit of the Regions to decentralize government decision-making.

Quebec now has more than 74,000 workers in government and its organizations.

The PQ has promised to reorganize the provincial civil service. However, Premier Landry says no one's job security will be threatened if he's re-elected.

Demographic improvisation?

Landry says he'll meet with a demographer who slammed the PQ election promises to boost the birth rate because they "look like they were scribbled on a placemat."

Jacques Henripin says Landry's promise to boost the birth rate with student loan reductions for parents and interest-free loans for young couples is pure improvisation.

Landry says he called Henripin as soon as he read his criticism in the newspaper.

Henripin says he doesn't believe the PQ promises because the party has been in power for almost 10 years and hasn't introduced any policies to encourage parenthood.