Sunday 24 June 2012

Quebec Finance Minister Raymond Bachand is ready for the next election

Over the past year I have had the opportunity to meet with Quebec Minister of Finance and Revenue Raymond Bachand on a number of occasions. The  Member of the National Assembly for Outremont has thoroughly impressed me. In fact, if Premier Jean Charest were to step down from his post I believe Bachand could step in and lead the Liberals to a majority victory.

Last week I was invited to Bachand's Côte des  Neiges Road office to talk to him about why he decided to seek a four term. Whenever the next election occurs --and I would bet this fall - he will be front and centre.

“It was hard decision and a family decision,” the Harvard educated Bachand told me in an interview at his Côte des Neiges Road office. “The last two years is not what I signed up for in the sense of what democracy used to be and the acrimony of the debate has put politics at level we have not seen before. The level of disrespect starts in the National Assembly with what the  opposition throws at us.”

Bachand genuinely believes the Quebec Liberals will be re-elected and he has some personal pride at stake as well. “My pride,” he says, “is to have a fourth budget - the next one will be when we return to a balanced budget and that will be next spring. An election could be held after next spring or before. That is also one of the main reasons why I am running again.”

What does he think about the past several months of student unrest over the tuition issue? “I’ll tell you,” he says, “I do not like what I see in Quebec. We have to speak up and we have to stand

Bachand served as a special secretary in the Office of then PQ Premier René Lévesque from 1979 to1981 before embarking upon a successful business career. I asked him if  how he believes Lévesque would have reacted to his old party supporting the student cause and civil disobedience. “One thing René Lévesque got angry about was any sign of violence or intolerance,” Bachand said.  “He could not support that. You know he walked in the concentration camps with the US Army and it marked him all of his life. Tolerance is such a key value for me and it was for him. He would never accept any sign of silence and that is what I would reproach the PQ for. When students are beat up in the entrance of schools and stopped from entering and you have hundreds of students wearing black shirts and hooded going into the Université du Québec going into classes and putting plastic bags on people’s heads...that is why we passed Bill 78. Never again will students be denied access by violence and intimidation.”

Here is my video interview with Mr. Bachand. For more read the June 29th edition of The Suburban Magazine.