Quebec's ruling pro-sovereignty party is calling on its rivals to step aside and give the Parti Québécois a better chance of winning the next election.
On the weekend, Premier Pauline Marois called on Québec Solidaire and the upstart Option Nationale to sacrifice themselves for the greater cause of Quebec sovereignty and potentially open the way for the PQ to win a majority in the next election.
In 1968, the Rally for National Independence (RIN) stood aside, contributing to the PQ party's majority win, years later in 1976.
Marois says Quebec's other separatist parties should follow the RIN's example, but this time the competition is refusing to stand on the sidelines.
Pro-sovereignty rivals refuse to step back
Québec Solidaire MNA Françoise David responded to Marois' pleas, saying that while their parties may agree on Quebec sovereignty, they disagree on a range of other topics.
"When it will be time for a referendum, we will be on the same team. But now we talk about [an] election," David said.
She said the PQ government’s cuts to health, education and social welfare show the party has forgotten its core values.
The PQ is also being slammed by its newly formed rival, Option Nationale.
The party criticizes the government for being too apologetic for its pro-separatist stance.
"Why do you talk about independence only in front of people who are already convinced?" asked Option Nationale’s candidate Catherine Dorion. "That is weak politics."
Dorion said her party is on the rise and has a message that is inspiring to voters.
"If you want to invest in a company, you choose the best company, the small company that is rising very fast … That's what Option Nationale is," she said.
CAQ says voters aren't interested in sovereignty
Meanwhile, opposition parties are criticizing Marois for wasting time on the separatism debate.
"Of course, the Parti Québécois is stuck with a problem where people, they don’t want to talk about sovereignty," said Coalition Avenir Québec leader François Legault.
"We have to have some measures to have an economy working in Montreal, working in Quebec … That is what we should be talking about."