In a Liberal Anglade government, Gaetan Barrette would not be Quebec health minister

Quebec Health Minister Gaetan Barrette responds to the Opposition during question period in the National Assembly, in Quebec City on Wednesday, March 14, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

Quebec Liberal MNA Gaétan Barrette is not about to have his deepest wish fulfilled: his leader, Dominique Anglade, says she will not appoint him as health minister if his party is returned to power in 2022.

Anglade stifled that dream Wednesday morning after Barrette publicly expressed his wish to become health minister again.

He held the position between 2014 and 2018 under the Philippe Couillard government.

"I'll tell you very, very formally, the answer is yes, it's my deepest wish, which may remain a wish, but you're asking me a personal question which I'm answering," Barrette said.

"We have an excellent spokesperson named Marie Montpetit," said the Liberal leader during a news scrum at a hotel in Orford, in the Eastern Townships, where her party's pre-sessional caucus is being held this week.

Without criticizing Barrette for his management of health care, Anglade spoke of renewal and "a move towards progress and modernity."

Barrette is known for having shaken up the health network with his Bill 10, which abolished agencies and grouped services under the banner of the CISSS and CIUSSS in order to improve efficiency.

He also passed Bill 20 to force family physicians to take on more patients. An agreement was eventually reached and the law was not implemented.

More recently, health commissioner Joanne Castonguay pointed the finger at the Barrette reform in her preliminary report on the first wave of the pandemic for Quebec's elderly residents.

"The creation of the CISSS and CIUSSS has not improved the situation," according to the commissioner, for whom "the integration of services, as well as the improvement of information systems, have not generated the expected results."

On Wednesday, Mr. Barrette defended his record.

"On each of the elements, I acted and on each of the elements, the CAQ stopped acting... All the problems mentioned in the report, I addressed them," he said.

MORE DEPARTURES? 

Anglade did not indicate which of her MNAs would run for re-election, saying she would save that announcement for another day.

"I have had conversations with all of my MNAs, I know where each of my MPs is staying," she said. "When we have announcements to make, you will be the first to know."

At least five MNAs said on Wednesday they were "considering" their political future.

Veterans Kathleen Weil, Pierre Arcand, Nicole Ménard and Christine St-Pierre all said they would think about seeking another term.

Last week, Anjou-Louis-Riel MNA Lise Thériault was the first to announce that she will not be running in 2022, after 20 years in politics.

The Liberals are holding their pre-sessional caucus until Thursday in Orford, in the Eastern Townships, their first face-to-face meeting of this kind since the start of the pandemic.

The National Assembly resumes on Sept. 14.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Sept. 8, 2021. 

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