Quebec election campaign to kick off August 23

Premier Philippe Couillard made the announcement today in Montreal.

Premier Philippe Couillard made the announcement today in Montreal

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard addressed the youth wing of Quebec's Liberal Party at their annual convention in Montreal on Saturday. (Cathy Senay/CBC)

Quebec's provincial election campaign will officially begin on Aug. 23.

Premier Philippe Couillard made the announcement this afternoon in Montreal at the annual convention of the youth wing of his Liberal Party. 

"I am announcing today that on August 23, in 12 days, we will be campaigning," Couillard said.

The election campaign must last between 33 and 39 days under provincial law, and it was widely believed that Couillard would call the election on Aug. 29, sticking with the 33-day minimum.

With today's announcement, the campaign will officially last the maximum of 39 days, before Quebecers head to the polls on Oct 1.

Other parties welcome the announcement

The Coalition Avenir Québec, which has been leading in recent opinion polls in the province, welcomed the announcement Saturday.

"Our team is ready, and we're looking forward to share our proposals for Quebec families!" it said in a tweet.

Jean-François Lisée, head of the Parti Québécois, also said he looked forward to getting the campaign underway.

"Good!" Lisée wrote in French on Twitter.

"The Parti Québécois team is ready to offer a government that's close to the needs of the people and refuses the permanent austerity measures that the Coalition Avenir Québec and the Liberal Party of Quebec are proposing."

Liberals trailing CAQ, according to recent polls

The CAQ is leading Couillard's Liberals, according to the most recent polls.

On Aug. 9, CBC's Quebec Poll Tracker — an aggregation of all publicly available polls weighted by date, sample size and pollsters' track records — showed François Legault's CAQ with 34.8 per cent current support in the province.

That's a five-point lead over the Liberals, who had 29.7 per cent support.

Still, Couillard exuded confidence at the youth convention Saturday, saying Quebecers would elect a majority Liberal government.

"On October 1, Quebecers will make a choice for the future, for leadership, and for trust, and they'll choose the Liberal Party of Quebec," he said.

Political observers said the Liberal party sought to put pressure on Legault by drawing him into the election campaign earlier than planned.

The hope, Radio-Canada reported last week, was that the longer campaign would create more opportunity for Legault to stumble as the CAQ leads in the polls.

With files from Radio-Canada