Referendum, identity overshadow Quebec's campaign promises

Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois said progressive voters should worry if a minority government arises from the Sept. 4 election.

Top 3 parties battle it out 9 days before election

Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois said progressive voters should worry if a minority government arises from the Sept. 4 election.

She said a PQ government could have its hands tied by a Liberal or CAQ government and stop it from adopting "progressive and audacious" politics.

"Electing a minority government would stop it from passing laws and fixing situations created by the Charest government," said Marois.

Marois was in Montreal's Saint-Henri–Saint-Anne borough Sunday to announce a plan to offer 3,000 new social and community housing units every year for five years.

According to Marois, it would cost $35 million and would allow groups to plan new developments without having to rely on the provincial budget.

She also proposed a total of $28 million for legal aid programs.

Marois also took the time to talk about solidarity within the PQ and attacked Coalition Avenir Québec's François Legault for comments he made about her party.

Since the election began on Aug. 1, Legault has been commenting on the PQ's relation with union groups, saying the party has "its hands tied."

Marois said the only way to preserve Quebec's identity would be to win a referendum.

"We are a sovereigntist government, we are faced by the Harper government that goes against our interests and values and my objective is to make sure that Quebecers' interests be defended and that Quebec gets back on track with its project to become a country and the only way to do this is to elect a majority Parti Québécois government," said Marois.

The Quebec electoral race comes to an end Sept. 4 and party leaders are attacking their opponents in a final effort to gain votes.

Charest has "no doubts" about anglo vote

Liberal Party leader Jean Charest was in the Hull riding announcing his party's plan to budget $15 million for the production of children's television and web shows "to give children a taste for culture."

A Leger Marketing survey, done for the QMI news agency, released Saturday puts support for the Parti Québécois at 33 per cent, followed by the CAQ at 28 per cent and the Liberals in third place at 27 per cent.

The online poll surveyed more than 1,900 people and has a margin of error of 2.2 per cent.

With the numbers so close, the poll reflects a downward trend for the Liberals rather than a formal loss in voters.

Charest said even if there are differences in opinions within the anglophone community, he believes Quebec's English speakers will support the Liberals.

"I have no doubt that the anglophone community does not want to see a return to debates about a referendum or Legault's simple solutions — they certainly do not want to see the dismantling of their school board. No one wants that."

While on the campaign trail, the CAQ threatened to cut school boards and turn them into regional centres to streamline education.

Legault tries to clarify his stance on separatism

Legault, who was also in the Outaouais region, said he believes the CAQ could seduce the region historically known to be federalist and liberal.

He said he would not be trying to divide the federalist vote between his party and the Liberals, since it could allow PQ candidates to be elected in the riding.

Legault said "sovereignty in Quebec is a legitimate project," but his party would not be promoting a citizen-driven referendum. "That's irresponsible," he said.

The CAQ leader defended himself for being ambiguous when discussing his stance on sovereignty after Charest accused him of being a separatist.

"The coalition, no matter what Charest says, cannot be clearer on the topic of constitution," said Legault. "We will fight so that there will be no referendum. Even if we're the opposition."

Even though Legault said his party would vote against a referendum, the leader says he agrees with the PQ's stance on Bill 101, the language law, and feels the bill can help maintain Quebec's identity.

"I think what the Parti Québécois proposes is responsible," he said. "To reopen this debate, like other debates about health, education and economy, and protect this consensus."

The CAQ rarely stepped out of the Montreal and Quebec region during the electoral campaign.

Legault said he hoped his visit in the Outaouais would earn him federalist votes because, the region is "taken for granted" by the Liberals.

The CAQ was in the region to remind people of the party's engagement to reduce emergency wait times in hospitals. Candidate Gaétan Barrette said he would focus "95 per cent" of his energy to the cause if the party was elected. The other five per cent, he said, would be used to bring more private health care into the network.