Quebec Premier Pauline Marois says her Parti Québécois government does not intend to call a general election in 2013.
Marois ended speculation about an end-of-year election during a brief news conference with reporters at the end of a two-day retreat with her cabinet in Saint-Michel-des-Saints in the Lanaudière region.
Marois said instead she will call byelections in the Montreal riding of Outremont and the Laval riding of Viau, where she pledged not to run a PQ candidate if Liberal leader Philippe Couillard enters the race.
- PQ says EU trade deal will help Quebec
- Quebec values charter: Is it a political game changer for the PQ?
"His place is in the national assembly," she said of Couillard, who is currently without a seat in the provincial legislature.
In response to Marois' offer, Couillard repeated his desire to run in his home riding of Roberval in the next general election, but he did not rule out running in the byelection.
"When the byelection is called officially, not mentioned in a press conference, I will very rapidly tell you my decision," he told reporters.
The likely date for the byelections is Dec. 9 — the same date that was predicted for an early election call.
That date had been bandied about for weeks, as political pundits focused on the question of whether the PQ government has the support right now to win a majority.
Marois told reporters that Quebec voters gave the PQ a mandate in the 2012 provincial election and her government will continue to fulfill it. She pointed to her government's proposed charter of values as well as its work on job creation and the economy as the priorities on which her government will continue to focus.
Reports suggested Marois’ cabinet is divided on the issue of calling an election.
At the outset of the Lanaudière retreat, Alexandre Cloutier, the PQ’s intergovernmental affairs minister, told reporters that he was not in favour of sending Quebecers to the polls, but he acknowledged that the feeling was not unanimous among his fellow cabinet ministers.