We have all been affected, even distressed, by the events of the past few days. Certain persons associated with our party are facing serious criminal charges. These individuals have the right to be presumed innocent, and the charges brought against them must be tested in the courts. The deliberations of the Charbonneau commission and the investigations that followed also involved other levels of jurisdiction and other political parties. But this must not absolve us of the responsibility to reflect on these events and to learn from them.
We are members or supporters of the Quebec Liberal Party, a great political party which is as old as Canada itself and which has always been entrusted with the fulfillment of its most fundamental democratic traditions.
The existence of political parties allows women and men to come together to participate in democratic life and to develop a collective philosophy. This philosophy differs depending on the political party to which one belongs. The one chosen by the Quebec Liberal Party draws on our history and the seven values so nobly articulated by Claude Ryan in 2002. These values illustrate the value of balance in supporting the development of concrete public policies. They include:
- Individual freedoms;
- Emphasis on economic development and social justice as governing principles;
- Identifying with Quebec while belonging to Canada;
- Democracy and respect for civil society.
With the founding of our Youth Commission, intergenerational equity also became an important Party value, illustrated by our current efforts to get public finances back on track and control public debt.
The duty to promote our common language, our openness to the world around us, and our desire to build an inclusive society (in accordance with the interculturalism model) is also at the centre of our commitments and of our actions. This is what brings us together. This is what defines us.
The Quebec Liberal Party belongs to you. It is the party of thousands of members, volunteers and supporters who gather to deliberate in our institutions and develop our policy positions. It is the party of Members of the National Assembly and the employees of our offices in Montreal and Quebec City, of riding office and ministerial staff, all of whom give their heart and soul to serve the public good.
It is important to keep in mind that, from 2009 to 2012, it was a Quebec Liberal Party government that implemented many measures to strengthen party financing rules.
In addition to enacting many measures designed to introduce healthier practices in the construction industry, that QLP government also enacted legislation to strengthen the authority of Quebec’s Director General of Elections, develop a framework for party financing, and implement a code of ethics for municipalities and a code of ethics for the National Assembly. The Quebec Liberal Party also created l’Unité permanente anticorruption (UPAC). That work is continuing, inspired by the recommendations of the Charbonneau commission. For example, a bill calling for the repayment of funds paid unjustly as a result of fraud or deceitful practices with regard to public contracts has already been adopted by the National Assembly, and a bill to facilitate the disclosure of reprehensible activities in public sector organizations is currently before the Assembly.
In addition, there have been many changes in the way we raise money. The maximum annual per person political contribution was reduced to $100 in 2013; this measure was adopted unanimously by the National Assembly. We have amended our party constitution, which now includes a code of ethics. In fact, the Quebec Liberal Party is the only political party in Quebec to have a code of ethics for its members and supporters. We have also established new fundraising objectives for ridings which do not take into account the position held by the Member of the National Assembly who represents that riding.
I have confidence in the justice system and in our society’s democratic institutions. I trust each and every one of our MNAs – and I trust you, our members, our volunteers, our supporters and our employees. You make our party strong and you make it great.
The intellectual spirit of our party is found in non-partisan activities such as the Forum des idées. The fourth annual edition of this event will take place this fall. The topic of the first Forum was the economy; the second led us to the creation of Quebec’s first-ever Digital Strategy (which will be outlined in the coming weeks); the third taught us how to refocus Quebec’s education system on the needs of students, teachers and parents (an education reform bill is currently before the Assembly). The next Forum will be devoted to social policy, and place particular emphasis on the notion of a guaranteed minimum income.
Our next election platform, like the one presented to the people of Quebec in 2014, will be the result of the collaborative efforts undertaken by our active supporters and our policy committees, with the support of our MNAs and the employees of our offices in Montreal and Quebec City.
The party that I have the honour and the privilege of leading has deep political roots, firmly engrained in our history. We are the descendants of Papineau’s “rouges”, and our political action has been enhanced by the contributions of each of his successors. We are the party which has brought Quebec progress, freedom, inclusiveness and justice.
Today, we are the party which, having tabled a budget which is both historic and substantive, has brought an end to a succession of deficits while entering into agreements with our municipal and public sector partners, reducing the fiscal burden borne by taxpayers, supporting economic development and reinvesting in public services. We are the party that is relentlessly moving Quebec toward a 21st century economy – one which provides better and more up-to-date training, one which innovates, one which takes advantage of the transition to a more environmentally-friendly economy, while educating, attracting to Quebec and retaining the best talents from around the world. The Quebec we hold dear has everything necessary to succeed. It is up to us to ensure that future generations also have the means to aim higher and to achieve their dreams.
This is why we got involved, why we continue to be involved, in politics. This is why I am so proud to be a member of the Quebec Liberal Party and to abide by its founding principles.
Keep up the good work!
Together, we are building a better Quebec.
Member for Roberval and Leader of the Quebec Liberal Party