QUEBEC — Opposition parties have ripped Premier Philippe Couillard’s cabinet shuffle, describing it as more of the same.
The same basic set of ministers remain in place, which means the government — despite its spin that it is transforming itself — has no real new solutions to the problems of the day, they say.
“We’ve seen this before: the premier changes the supporting actors but that changes noting in the actions of this government because the principal cast remains in place,” Parti Québécois leader Jean-François Lisée said in a statement.
He added 92 per cent of government spending is still in the hands of the same people and many of them are former Coalition Avenir Québec members, which means the Liberal Party is now closer to the right wing than ever.
“The Liberal government has completed its shift into CAQ-ADQ-land,” said Lisée.
The negative message was similar from the other opposition party, the Coalition Avenir Québec, which said nothing has really changed.
CAQ house leader François Bonnardel said it’s like the government walked into a room and sprayed around a bit of air freshener. It dissipates pretty fast.
Noting the Liberals will have been in power nearly 15 years (except for the 18-month term of the PQ), Bonnardel said 17 of Couillard’s ministers were there under the previous leader (Jean Charest).
“It’s all well and good to play musical chairs but nothing has changed,” Bonnardel said. “The problem is the head conductor.”
On Wednesday, Couillard made a much-anticipated shuffle of his cabinet team. He added six new ministers, bringing the size of the cabinet to 30 plus Couillard.
Thursday, Couillard’s new ministers fanned out, granting multiple interviews to put the right spin on the Liberal message.
There was some positive feedback. Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said he was glad to see a combintation of youth and old hands because the city has a good working relationship with Couillard’s ministers in Quebec City.
That same government passed a bill giving Montreal the status of metropolis.
“From Montreal’s perspective, our administration and our future administration won’t have to go back to school,” Coderre said. “We just pick up the phone and we can talk to each other.”