MONTREAL — Quebec's four main political leaders gave opening and closing statements at their English-language debate in Montreal on Monday night. Here is a transcript of what they said:
Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard
Opening: "Welcome to this historic English debate. Over the next 90 minutes I look forward to talking about issues that matter to you and your family, issues that concern all Quebecers. Thanks to our sound fiscal management, Quebec is at the turning point. We now have the means to make life easier for all Quebecers. If re-elected, we will increase the number of super-clinics, provide free dental care, invest in our teachers and health-care workers and keep our economy rolling. Our vision of Quebec leaves no one behind. lt unites us instead of dividing us. As a strong united Quebec, we make Canada better."
Closing: "With two weeks to go, the choices facing Quebecers are clear: build on what we have accomplished or watch it fall apart, welcome talent or close ourselves off, work together, not against each other. Our values and our policies are consistent. They do not change as the wind blows. A Liberal-led government will continue to balance the books while investing in health, education and the environment. We will continue to promote the French language while building an inclusive Quebec. We will continue to stand up for the interests of Quebec in Ottawa and Washington, while striving to work collaboratively with our neighbours. Let's build on what we have accomplished together. Let's move forward instead of backwards. Your vote does matter."
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Coalition Avenir Quebec Leader Francois Legault
Opening: "Good evening. It is a great pleasure to speak directly with my fellow English-speaking Quebecers. Tonight, I am asking for your support. The Liberals have been in power for 15 long years. It's time for a change. My position is clear. I want to build a strong Quebec within Canada. You're no longer forced to choose between Quebec and Canada, the PQ and the Liberals. Your choice in this election is clear-cut. On the one side the old and tired Liberal government; on the other my party, which will bring about positive change. This evening, I will explain my plan to build a richer Quebec."
Closing: "The debate tonight has made things clear. On the one side, the same old parties, the same old debates with Mr. Lisee, Mr. Couillard. On the other side, a call for change. I have great ambition for Quebec. I'm asking tonight for your support. Your contribution is vital to get Quebec moving forward. Let's build a richer Quebec together with lower tax rates, better schools, quicker access to health care, a Quebec that helps families and takes care of its seniors with dignity. On Oct. 1, I am asking you to end 15 years of Liberal rule and to elect a government that works for you. Real change starts now."
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Parti Quebecois Leader Jean-Francois Lisee
Opening: "For me, the most important feature in politics and in life is honesty. Our founder Rene Levesque is my guide. Although our commitment is iron-clad that we won't hold a referendum in the first mandate, I strongly believe, like him, that Quebec is unique and should be independent. Like him, I want French to be our official and common language and I won't equivocate on this issue, unlike the Liberals. Like him, I recognize the value of Quebec's English-speaking community and I firmly defend the rights of Anglo citizens and institutions against allcomers. I stood with you in battles against the Liberal government when it took away control over English hospitals and tried to scrap English school boards."
Closing: "I was the first leader to agree to this debate because I wanted to speak to you directly, beyond stereotypes, and say how the PQ offers good, green, progressive government. I want to close on the climate crisis. Will Quebec still be in the oil business after Oct. 1? Well, if the Liberals or the CAQ win, yes. With the PQ, no. We are committed to reducing emissions with more public transit, yes, but also by paying you $8 a day to car-pool and by providing a $100 subscription refund for a car-sharing service. No more diesel-guzzling school buses with us. Our green program will reduce our emissions by 25 per cent in seven years because, in French or in English, this is the only planet we have."
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Quebec solidaire co-spokesperson Manon Masse
Opening: "Tonight is the first time many of you will hear about Quebec solidaire. I am happy to have this chance to talk to you about our common future. I am here to talk about dental care for everyone, free education and a way out of the climate crisis. I am here to explain how we can make it possible. For too long, elections have been about more of the same — more cuts for you, more money for the big corporations and the super-rich. More divisions when we need to stand together."
Closing: "Thank you for your listening and your questions. We can disagree maybe on many things but we need to work together to stop the climate crisis. It is the single most important issue in this election. On Oct. 1, I ask you to stand with me and give me, give us, the mandate to protect our land, our water and our people. Everybody knows it's now or never. You have been taken for granted for too long now. Quebec solidaire is different. I will be a premier who works for the many, and not for the few."
The Canadian Press