New Liberal Premier Philippe Couillard to lay out agenda with inaugural address

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QUEBEC - Quebecers will get a better idea this afternoon of how their new Liberal government intends to rein in the province's deficit.

Premier Philippe Couillard will deliver his inaugural address to the legislature laying out the broad lines of his government's plans for the next four years.

He has said his main priority will be wrestling Quebec's deficit under control before it gets any bigger.

Couillard's speech will be followed by a budget in early June.

He has said tough decisions need to be made because Quebecers are living beyond their means.

He will be targeting spending in all government departments and has insisted no one will be spared.

The government will also address legislation dealing with physician-assisted death for some terminally ill patients as well a law giving Montreal an inspector-general to help root out municipal corruption.

Couillard has said he's putting a lot of work into his address.

"An inaugural address, as you know, is not telling people what we will do for this coming session," he said recently. "It's to tell them what the plan is for our government for the next four-years-and-a-half. This is what I will do. It will be quite clear.

"I think it's an important exercise and I'm taking a lot of...time to work on this."

There will likely be a few high-profile absences when the legislature convenes.

Pierre Karl Peladeau, a former media mogul being touted as a Parti Quebecois leadership contender, is recovering in hospital after a bike accident on Sunday left him with several fractures.

As well, former Liberal transport minister Julie Boulet is expected to be a no-show after recently testifying at the provincial corruption inquiry about political party financing. Boulet was left out when Couillard crafted his cabinet.

Stephane Bedard, the interim PQ leader, says he hopes the debates in this session will be more constructive than in the last.

The Liberals were elected with a majority government on April 7, ending 18 months of PQ minority rule.

Organizations: Parti Quebecois

Geographic location: QUEBEC, Montreal

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