JOBS AMONG ISSUES
Polls heading into Monday’s vote suggested jobs, the economy and health care were dominant issues for voters. Sovereignty, language and the controversial values charter — all central PQ campaign themes — were well down the list.
Armed with a strong majority, Couillard now needs to tackle public spending and economic growth, Dorval said in a interview.
“This is clearly a tough job,” he said. “The next government will have to be courageous and to take tough decisions in order to cut spending, because we are facing a huge debt and we are facing also increasing demand in public infrastructure.”
The Liberals have pledged to create 250,000 jobs during the next five years, while cutting $1.3 billion in spending. Half of any eventual surplus will be directed to income tax cuts and half to paying down Quebec’s long-term debt.
Former Liberal minister Benoit Pelletier said political stability will allow Couillard’s government to tackle the key economic issues and also encourage investors to have faith in the province.
“One of the messages that I expect Philippe Couillard to send during the next days and next weeks will be that Quebec is again open for business,” said Pelletier, a professor at the University of Ottawa.
Concordia University finance professor Lorne Switzer said the Liberal win might even provide a small boost to both the loonie and Canadian stock prices, although some observers said the prospect of a Liberal victory may already be priced in.
For the Quebec economy, however, the Liberal win is good news, said Norman Levine of Toronto investment management firm Portfolio Management Corp.
“The Parti Quebecois government, they did a really good job of messing up the economy in a pretty short period of time and it cost the economy both jobs and potential jobs,” he said.
“Nothing is going to change overnight, but it’s relief. Had it gone the other way in surprise, it would have been very bad for Quebec-based stocks and probably the Canadian dollar as well.”
— Staff Writer Dan Heath contributed to this report.