Marois tells PQ to go on sovereignty 'offensive'
Published Monday, February 11, 2013 12:48PM EST
Despite minority government status and poll numbers which show support for Quebec sovereignty on the decline, Premier Pauline Marois is imploring the Parti Quebecois to make an online push for independence.
The PQ leader signalled the party's new strategy at a weekend meeting in Drummondville, Que.
After going on the defensive in the wake of the 1995 sovereignty referendum, Marois told the approximately 400 PQ delegates that: "Those days are over. As of now, we're going on the offensive."
The reasons are many, she said, citing the threat to French language in Quebec; deep-rooted political differences with Ottawa, on gun control, for instance; and a potential boost to the province's bottom line if it were to take control of its own resources.
In a question-and-answer session with reporters, Marois explained why she hopes the 90,000 card-carrying PQ members will take to social media and other informal lines of communication to spread the message that Quebec independence will bring many benefits to the province and its inhabitants.
"We think that it is very important to explain why that is an emergency now to do the sovereignty," Marois said in English, explaining that the information offensive would be framed as a positive campaign.
"Our goal is not speak against federal government or against Canadians or against Canada," she said. "Our goal is to speak about the interests for the Quebecers to have the sovereignty."
Marois conceded voters have not given her a mandate to call a referendum now. Instead, she said her government will pursue a "sovereigntist-governance agenda" that's focused on ensuring Quebec avails itself of all its powers under the constitution until conditions change.
When asked to detail her party's "sovereigntist-governance" approach, Marois was non-committal.
The PQ is working on it, she said, adding that her government would "deploy our project in the weeks ahead."
According to the results of a Léger Marketing poll conducted for the Montreal newspapers Le Devoir and The Gazette last week, support for sovereignty in Quebec stands at 37 per cent. That's down 6 percentage points from a similar poll conducted at the same time last year.
In the run-up to the Quebec provincial election last September, Marois' campaign played up language and identity issues, and promised to reinvigorate a push toward independence.
On election day, however, voters elected PQ MPPs in 54 of the province's 125 ridings. The previous governing Liberals were elected in 50.
Without a majority mandate, Marois has scaled back her more contentious plans, with her government even going so far as to appoint a minister responsible for Anglophone relations.
In her remarks over the weekend, Marois enthusiastically suggested an independent Quebec would be good for all the province's residents.
"Imagine a country of 8 million women, men and children who govern this vast, magnificent territory," she said in French.
With files from CTV Montreal