12/06/2013 05:18 EST | Updated 02/05/2014 05:59 EST

Pauline Marois: PQ Government More Focused Than Last Year


QUEBEC - Premier Pauline Marois says her government was more focused in the current session of the legislature than when it was first elected last year.

Marois says her team concentrated on employment and identity and she is pleased with the results.

She indicated some disappointment at being unable to balance the budget as planned but said delaying it until 2015-16 will allow her government to avoid tax hikes and deep spending cuts.

"We committed to controlling government spending and we have done that in an exemplary manner," she said.

Marois told a news conference on Friday as the legislature began its winter break that she believes the province is headed in the right direction.

She was pleased at new numbers indicating the unemployment rate in the province fell to 7.2 per cent in November from 7.5 per cent a month earlier.

Marois also said her government stands by its decision to bring in a values charter that would prohibit public sector employees from wearing obvious religious symbols.

In an earlier news conference, Liberal Leader Philippe Coulliard called the charter illegal and unconstitutional.

When it was pointed out to her that only 10 bills were passed into law during the session, Marois blamed the opposition.

"We tried to discuss with the opposition but they were not available," she said, acknowledging that the Coalition Avenir Quebec had tried to negotiate changes to proposed laws on language and mining.

Plans for a tougher language law failed, negotiations on the values charter have floundered and a deal on the mining bill was only reached at the last minute.

The Liberals were more entrenched in their opposition to the government's agenda, she said.

"They disagreed with many of our projects and we don't know what is their position on many projects because they say 'no, we disagree.' And on some projects they change their mind.

"When they decide what they want to do, maybe we could discuss with them," Marois said.

Couillard, who is expected to win a byelection in a Montreal-area riding on Monday, said his party plans to hold the government to account in the next session and didn't rule out triggering an election if Marois' team isn't meeting Quebecers' needs.

"Quebecers deserve better," he said.

However, the Liberals alone can't bring down the government. They will need support from other opposition parties in the minority government legislature.

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