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Quebec finance minister sparks minor controversy by holding pre-budget photo-op in Longueuil, not Quebec City

Quebec Finance Minister Eric Girard displays a copy of his budget during a news conference in Longueuil, Que., Monday, March 11, 2024. Girard will present the budget tomorrow and it's expected to include a larger deficit than forecast. (Christinne Muschi/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Quebec Finance Minister Eric Girard displays a copy of his budget during a news conference in Longueuil, Que., Monday, March 11, 2024. Girard will present the budget tomorrow and it's expected to include a larger deficit than forecast. (Christinne Muschi/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Quebec's finance minister has sparked controversy by holding his annual pre-budget ceremony in Longueuil, Que., instead of Quebec City, the provincial capital.

Eric Girard spoke in the Montreal suburb on Monday, explaining that the next budget, set to be unveiled at the National Assembly on Tuesday, would centre on health-care and education spending.

Traditionally, such a ceremony is held in Quebec City and the finance minister dons a new pair of shoes.

Girard's ceremony was neither in Quebec City, nor did he get a new pair of kicks.

His choice to hold it in Longueuil has drawn criticism from both Bruno Marchand, the mayor of the provincial capital and Pascal Paradis, a Parti Québécois MNA who recently won a byelection in the Quebec City riding of Jean-Talon.

"Is the government so embarrassed by its record in the provincial capital that it's trying to avoid the parliamentary press by holding the pre-budget photo op in Longueuil rather than Quebec City?" Paradis said on Monday.

"Quebec City is not a 'second metropolis,' it's the capital of Quebec. Official events must be held there, period."

Marchand said the pre-budget appearance is symbolic, but it is an opportunity to remind Quebecers that Quebec City is the provincial capital.

"The Quebec reflex is important," he said. "It's the capital."