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Maple Leaf will return to Quebec’s National Assembly, Couillard vows

Quebec Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard waves to supporters in his home riding in Roberval after a campaign blitz accross the province, Sunday, April 6, 2014. Quebeckers are going to the polls on April 7.

Jacques Boissinot/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Canadian flag will be returning to the Quebec National Assembly's Salon Rouge, the chamber where ceremonies and legislative committees take place, if Philippe Couillard wins the election Monday night.

"It was there with our government, and it will certainly come back, there will be two flags," Mr. Couillard said. "Our identity is profoundly Québécois, but we are also attached to our Canadian citizenship."

The flag comes and goes with the change of every government between the federalist Liberals and the separatist Parti Québécois. But it's always a step laden with symbolism.

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The Liberal Leader's campaign stood apart from his recent predecessors for his unabashed endorsement of Canada and bilingualism, which he admitted caused him trouble on the campaign.

Perhaps the biggest bump on Mr. Couillard's rookie election run was in the second debate when he suggested bilingualism is becoming a necessity for factory-floor workers who might come into contact with visiting clients.

Bill 101, Quebec's language law, allows designated customer-service jobs to be bilingual, but not for every factory worker who might one day come across an American purchaser.

Mr. Couillard did not say they should all be bilingual, but his opponents quickly filled in the gap by saying he wanted to return to the bad old days when Francophone workers could only work in English.

"I could have expressed myself more clearly. I was talking about people who have contact with clients. It's clear, it's obvious those jobs must be like that (bilingual), but my adversaries took advantage to create a false impression," he said.

"I reiterate what I said then, Bill 101 allows businesses to designate bilingual jobs when there is contact with clients. It's obvious."

Mr. Couillard said his first act if he wins a majority will be to do "whatever he can" to create jobs and get Quebec's auditor to examine public finances to help him prepare the groundwork for a return to a balanced budget in 2015-16.

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"There will be an important positive signal sent, and a return to confidence of consumers, investors and lenders," Mr. Couillard said.

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