Quebec's next Cabinet: A delicate exercise for Premier François Legault

On October 20, Premier François Legault will announce his Cabinet. Following the election of 90 MNAs, he and his team will have a difficult task ahead of them. He will have to take into account gender parity, regional representation, the seniority of certain MNAs and the arrival of newly elected officials. The previous Cabinet was composed of 26 MNAs. Only three ministers did not run in the last election. This time it should be around 27 to 30 ministers. Here are those who can aspire to sit at the decision-making table and those who could lose their position.

The Unavoidable

Among the 26 outgoing ministers, some of them are almost certain to return due to their excellent performance during the last legislature. They mastered their duties with brilliance and performed well in front of the cameras.

Geneviève Guilbault, MNA for Louis-Hébert, Capitale-Nationale

Deputy Premier of Quebec, Minister of Public Safety, Minister responsible for the Capitale-Nationale

Ms. Guilbault’s election in 2017 in a Liberal stronghold by-election was a precursor to the Caquist wave that would sweep through Quebec for years to come. Ms. Guilbault was very present during the last legislature as well as during the elections. Ms. Guilbault will certainly be part of the next Cabinet. However, she has indicated that she no longer wishes to be Minister responsible for the Capitale-Nationale region, due to her tense relationship with the mayor of Quebec City, Mr. Bruno Marchand.

Simon Jolin-Barrette, MNA for Borduas, Montérégie

Minister of Justice, Parliamentary Leader, Minister responsible for Laicity and Parliamentary Reform, Minister of the French Language, Minister responsible for Montérégie

Mr. Jolin-Barrette is a lawyer and has been elected in the riding of Borduas since 2014. He held many ministries during the last legislature and was very present during parliamentary jousts as well as in the news. He piloted two of the most significant laws of the last four years, namely Bill 21 (secularism) and Bill 96 (French language). He will be back at the Cabinet. With Ms. Guilbault, he represents both the experience and the future of the party.

Sonia Lebel, MNA for Champlain, Mauricie

Minister responsible for Government Administration and Chair of the Treasury Board, Minister responsible for Canadian Relations and Francophonie, Minister responsible for Democratic Institutions and Electoral Reform

Ms. Lebel made her name as a Crown prosecutor during the Charbonneau Commission on corruption and collusion in the Quebec construction industry some 10 years ago. For the past four years, she has led successful negotiations with the various unions in the Quebec public sector. Her verve and ease with the media will certainly serve her well in the Cabinet for the next four years. There is a strong possibility that Ms. Lebel will become Minister of Education to put her negotiation skills to good use with the various unions in the education sector.

Eric Girard, MNA for Groulx, Laurentides

Minister of Finance

Mr. Girard was previously treasurer of the National Bank before being elected in 2018 under the CAQ banner. Rather reserved in front of the camera, this did not prevent him from producing excellent budgets and continuing to close the wealth gap between Quebec and Ontario. He is likely to return to the same ministry.

Christian Dubé, MNA for La Prairie, Montérégie

Minister of Health and Social Services

Mr. Dubé previously held finance positions with some of the country’s largest organizations. He was elected in 2012 and again in 2018. First as President of the Treasury Board and then as Minister of Health and Social Services, he led the government through the pandemic with great success. There is little doubt that he will return to the same ministry to continue reforming the health care system, Quebec’s largest budget item.

Pierre Fitzgibbon, MNA for Terrebonne, Lanaudière

Minister of Economy and Innovation, Minister responsible for Regional Economic Development

Mr. Fitzgibbon worked for some of Quebec’s largest companies as a senior executive before being elected in 2018. His extensive experience in the business sector has made him a popular minister in the community. Despite his ethical lapses, he should surely return to office as Minister of the Economy and Innovation. He signaled his intention to occupy a superministry to which energy would be added to promote Hydro-Québec to investors, without creating a stir with its CEO Sophie Brochu.

Andrée Laforest, MNA for Chicoutimi, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean

Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Minister responsible for the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region

Ms. Laforest was an entrepreneur and teacher before entering politics in 2018. During her mandate, she notably concluded agreements with the federal government for the funding of social and affordable housing in Quebec. Ms. Laforest won the highest percentage of support among CAQ MNAs in the 2022 election. While her place as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing may not be secure, her place in Cabinet is not in doubt.

The Newcomers

Bernard Drainville, MNA for Lévis, Chaudières-Appalaches

Mr. Drainville is a renowned journalist as well as an experienced politician, one of the CAQ’s new star candidates in 2022. He served as an MNA and Minister for the Parti Québécois from 2007 to 2016. Among other things, he reformed the Election Act and attempted to adopt the Charter of Values. He later became the host of one of the most listened to radio programs in Quebec. Mr. Drainville will be part of the Cabinet and he could obtain the position of Minister responsible for the Capitale-Nationale region as well as for transportation, he would know how to manage the thorny issue of the 3rd link in Quebec City with brio.

Martine Biron, MNA for Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, Chaudières-Appalaches

Ms. Biron is also one of the new star candidates elected in the last election. She has had a long career in journalism, most recently as a political analyst at the National Assembly for Radio-Canada. Although this is her first experience in active politics, her analytical skills and political acumen will certainly be put to good use in the Cabinet.

Kateri Champagne Jourdain, MNA for Duplessis, Côte-Nord

Ms. Jourdain unseated the Parti Québécois which had ruled in Duplessis for 40 years. She is the first aboriginal woman elected to the National Assembly. In 2019, she became the first aboriginal woman to sit on the board of directors of the Desjardins Group. As a businesswoman, she worked within her band council and was later the general manager of the first shopping center in Canada developed and managed by an aboriginal community, Les Galeries Montagnaises. Her nomination to the Cabinet seems essential.

Céline Haytayan, MNA for Laval-des-Rapides, Laval

Ms. Haytayan is one of the newly elected Laval MNAs who unseated the Liberals in their riding. She is a corporate strategist and manager who was responsible for international corporate affairs at Ubisoft. She could be part of the Cabinet, which must have at least one elected official from Laval among its ranks.

Sonia Bélanger, MNA for Prévost, Laurentides

Ms. Bélanger is a nurse by training. She is a manager in the health sector and has been President and CEO of the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal since 2015. Given her remarkable understanding of the Quebec health system, she could find herself in the Cabinet to support Mr. Dubé in the reform of the Quebec health system.

Pascale Déry, MNA for Repentigny, Lanaudière

Ms. BélangeMs. Déry spent 15 years in the news department of the TVA and LCN networks. She then worked at the Montreal Economic Institute as vice-president of communications, development, and external affairs and then as director of media relations at Air Canada. Her experience in the media as well as in the private sector could strongly merit her a place on the Cabinet.r is a nurse by training. She is a manager in the health sector and has been President and CEO of the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal since 2015. Given her remarkable understanding of the Quebec health system, she could find herself in the Cabinet to support Mr. Dubé in the reform of the Quebec health system.

Daniel Bernard, MNA for Rouyn-Noranda-Témiscamingue, Abitibi-Témiscamingue

Mr. Bernard holds a master’s degree in geological engineering and an MBA. He was elected as a Liberal in 2003 and 2008 in the same riding of Rouyn-Noranda-Témiscamingue. While the prognosis was not in his favor because of the controversy surrounding the Horne Foundry, he won the riding handily. Not only because of his electoral performance but also because of his political experience and regional representation, Mr. Bernard should be part of the Cabinet.

On the Hot Seat

Jean-François Roberge, MNA for Chambly, Montérégie

Minister of Education

Mr. Roberge is a teacher and has been elected for the Coalition Avenir Québec since 2014. He was particularly effective when he was in the opposition. But the Ministry of Education is a difficult machine to master and several ministers have succeeded each other in recent years. He has completed the entire term in that position, which is noteworthy. However, because of the many ministers in his region and the party’s priority on education, he could lose his position.

Nathalie Roy, MNA for Montarville, Montérégie

Minister of Culture and Communication

Ms. Roy is a lawyer by training and has worked in the media world as a journalist, producer, and news anchor. She has been elected for the Coalition Avenir Québec since 2012. The sector seems to be generally satisfied with her work and would like her to remain in office to ensure stability in the advancement of issues. Nevertheless, her beginnings were rather laborious before she picked up steam during the pandemic. A journalist herself, she had a reputation for avoiding them and was singled out as a weak link in the government. The many ministers in her region will not make it easy for her, especially since some ministers have expressed interest in her position.

Benoit Charrette, MNA for Deux-Montagnes, Laurentides

Minister of the Environment and the Fight against Climate Change, Minister responsible for the Fight against Racism, Minister responsible for the Laval region

Mr. Charrette holds degrees in history/political science and public administration. First elected under the Parti Québécois in 2008, he has been elected since 2014 under the Coalition Avenir Québec and became Minister of the Environment at the beginning of the last mandate. He mastered his files and answered well to the questions of journalists and parliamentarians during his mandate. The environment has been perceived, rightly or wrongly, as the issue where the government is least strong. It is because of this perception that Mr. Charrette may lose his position as Minister of the Environment.

François Bonnardel, MNA for Granby, Estrie

Minister of Transport, Minister responsible for the Estrie region

Mr. Bonnardel has been elected since 2007, first under the Action Démocratique du Québec and then since 2012 under the Coalition Avenir Québec. He was previously an entrepreneur in the automotive industry. Re-elected with a strong majority of 16,000 votes, his place in the Cabinet is not in doubt. However, he could change ministry because of the considerations surrounding the 3rd link in Quebec City.

Éric Caire, MNA for La Peltrie, Capitale-Nationale

Minister of Cybersecurity and Digital, Minister responsible for Access to Information and Privacy, Deputy Parliamentary Leader

Mr. Caire has been elected since 2007, first under the Action Démocratique du Québec and then since 2012 under the Coalition Avenir Québec. Nicknamed the “sheriff”, his poise during parliamentary debates makes him a key figure in this area. However, can the Capitale-Nationale afford to keep three ministers with the arrival of newly elected officials in many regions? He currently occupies a ministry that is tailor-made for him, given his training in computer science. If he were to leave his position, he could become Parliamentary Leader due to his debating skills.

Honorable Mentions

Joëlle Boutin, MNA for Jean-Talon, Capitale-Nationale

Ms. Boutin was elected in a 2019 by-election in Quebec City. She was previously Chief of Staff at the Government Digital Transformation for Mr. Caire. She could very well take over the Ministry in the next legislature.

Alice Abou-Khalil, MNA for Fabre, Laval

Ms. Abou-Khalil is multilingual and was previously President of the CAQ. She is a consultant in information technology and cybersecurity. She could also aspire to take over the Ministry of Digital Affairs, especially since she has a geographical representation advantage by being elected in Laval.

Youri Chassin, MNA for Saint-Jérôme, Laurentides

Mr. Chassin was elected in 2018. An economist by training, he has worked in research groups such as CIRANO, the Montreal Economic Institute and the Conseil du Patronat. He could take over the Ministry of Regional Economic Development, thanks to his contacts with the business community.

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