Quebec finance minister prepares first budget

Rookie finance minister Carlos Leitao to deliver budget tomorrow

 QUEBEC — Quebec’s new finance minister is getting ready to take a run at getting the province’s economy on track.

Carlos Leitao showed off a new pair of running shoes today to reporters in Quebec City, a switch from the dress shoes usually worn when tabling a budget.

Leitao says the shoes reflect the efforts the new Liberal government will make to try to relaunch the Quebec economy.

Leitao suggests those efforts could include a new maritime strategy as well as a return to the previous Liberal government’s plan to develop northern Quebec.

Premier Philippe Couillard has warned since taking power that the time has come for hard economic decisions.

On the eve of his first budget, Leitao was also hanging onto the pair of shoes he wore during the recent Quebec election campaign.

The rookie finance minister says those shoes served him well and he’s keeping them, adding that they reflect the necessity to balance the books.

Treasury Board president Martin Coiteux will also table the spending estimates for 2014-2015 on budget day.

The Liberals have said they’re aiming to meet the previous Parti Quebecois government’s objective of a $1.75-billion deficit in 2014-15 and a balanced budget the following year.

The government has already brought in a hiring freeze in the public sector and is doing a complete review of its programs and services.

The Liberals were elected with a strong majority on April 7, winning 70 of the 125 seats in the legislature.

The minority PQ government lasted only 18 months.