Charest wants political crisis in Ottawa resolved fast

Quebec Liberal Leader Jean Charest urged federal politicians to quickly resolve their leadership crisis because political and economic instability don't mix well.

Quebec Liberal Leader Jean Charest urged federal politicians Monday to quickly resolve their leadership crisis, because political and economic instability don't mix well.

Charest said he doesn't want to get involved in the debate, but he hopes everyone gets to work quickly on economic questions.

"I won't comment on what's happening in Ottawa in choices and on issues," he said while campaigning in Montreal.

"They are elected, they have their mandates, they'll just have to figure it out. But I do want to have in front of me as rapidly as possible a government and a prime minister with whom we are going to work on the economy."

It's crucial that a first ministers' meeting go ahead with the prime minister in January to discuss economic issues, Charest said.

Federal Opposition parties have reached a tentative deal that would see Liberal leader Stéphane Dion become interim prime minister and pump billions of dollars into the economy.

Now the scene is set for the opposition parties to vote the Conservatives down in a confidence motion a week from today.

Then the Governor General would have to decide whether to invite Dion to form a coalition government or call a fresh election.

Charest wouldn't respond to questions about a recent poll suggesting the vast majority of Quebecers prefer a coalition government to another federal election.

"I don't personalize my relations with the federal government, neither with the federal prime minister, regardless of who is sitting in front of me," he said in French.

Deaf to Quebec

"Defending Quebec's interests is not something that varies according to political parties."

Quebecers need to elect their own stable government, Charest said, urging voters to support the Liberals on Dec. 8.

Quebec could gain from a federal coalition government led by the Liberals and NDP, said Parti Québécois Leader Pauline Marois.

The PQ leader called the leadership crisis in Ottawa a "minor distraction," but it was the only topic of discussion Monday during her campaign tour.

Harper has been deaf to Quebec's demands, and Charest doesn't have his ear, Marois said.

But the PQ leader stopped short of endorsing Dion. Overthrowing the Conservatives could reap rewards for Quebec, because the Bloc Québécois could find itself in a position to seek more financing and more power for the province.

"I have great confidence in the Bloc for defending our interests," Marois told reporters.

With files from the Canadian Press