Quebec party leaders preparing for key debate

The stakes will be high for Jean Charest's Liberals in the first of four televised leaders' debates in the Quebec election campaign, as polls show his party trails the Parti Québécois, led by Pauline Marois.

Upstart party Coalition Avenir Québec hopes to make gains

Leaders from four of Quebec's political parties will debate Sunday night. (CBC)

CBC News Network will carry the French-language debate for the leaders of four of Quebec's political party leaders — live with English translation — tonight from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET. It will also be streamed online at, and through the CBC News app.

Liberal Leader Jean Charest, leader of the Parti Québécois, Pauline Marois, Coalition Avenir Québec Leader François Legault and Françoise David, a Québec Solidaire co-spokesperson, will battle for votes in the debate.

The upstart Quebec sovereigntist party Option Nationale failed to secure a spot in the debate when a Quebec court turned down its bid for an injunction that would have forced CBC's French-language service, Radio-Canada, as well as Télé-Québec and TVA to include Jean-Martin Aussant, the party's leader and sole MNA, in the debates.

Aussant was one of six PQ legislators who quit the party in June 2011. He sat as as an Independent before launching Option Nationale.

During a campaign stop Saturday in Laval to talk about a plan to increase the number of parking spaces in the Montreal area to improve public transit use, Charest said he knows everyone will be gunning for him. He didn't seem to be fazed by it.

"I will be the target. There's no doubt about that," the premier said. "You know that. I know that. I have have been the target for the last four years, frankly, and that's what this debate will be about, so we'll just have to deal with it."

Public opinion polls show the PQ leads the Liberals and the Coalition Avenir Québec.

Sunday's debate, organized by a consortium of broadcasters, will be held at the Radio-Canada studios in downtown Montreal.