Charest attacks surging ADQ over sovereignty
Quebec Liberal Premier Jean Charest traded shots with his surging rival, Action democratique du Quebec Leader Mario Dumont, on the sovereignty question Saturday, while Parti Quebecois Leader Andre Boisclair sought reconciliation in the regions.
Charest demanded that Dumont come clean on his view on independence, suggesting for the second straight day that Dumont's stand on sovereignty is vague.
"On a question like this, we cannot sit between two chairs,'' Charest said in Val d'Or, 500 kilometres northwest of Montreal. "We're either in one place or the other. It's the price you have to pay as leader.''
He recalled how Dumont backed sovereigntists as recently as 1995, during the lead-up to the referendum.
Charest directed his barbs at Dumont, whose ADQ, opinion polls suggest, has gained support in advance of the March 26 election.
A recent Leger Marketing poll indicated the Liberals had the support of 32 per cent of Quebecers, compared with 25 per cent for the PQ and 21 per cent for the ADQ.
The numbers climbed another four percentage points for each party once the votes of undecided respondents were redistributed.
The Feb. 24-28 poll of 3,101 people is considered accurate within 1.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
But by targeting the ADQ -- and not the PQ -- Dumont said Charest is reeling.
"(The Liberals) are changing their strategy because of panic,'' Dumont said as he campaigned in the Quebec City area. "It seems their improvisation is being pushed by the polls.''
Dumont noted that Charest's campaign president, Line Beauchamp, voted Yes in the 1995 referendum.The ADQ's drive for more autonomy within Canada is clear, Dumont said.
"This position does unite,'' Dumont said. "This position is strong and that's why Jean Charest is so fearful of our position for autonomy. It's more autonomy within Canada, but it's coherent.
"Even in the English-speaking community, people like the fact that we are coherent.''
Boisclair tried to reconcile with pork producers Saturday in Ste. Croix, southwest of Quebec City.
In June 2002, while he was environment minister, Boisclair declared a moratorium on new pig farms to reduce river pollution caused by liquid manure.
The moratorium was lifted in December 2005.
Boisclair pledged $40 million to help pig producers develop green technologies and modernize farming equipment for Quebec farmers.
In the afternoon, Boisclair received a huge boost from the Federation des travailleurs du Quebec -- a 520,000-member union.
The FTQ voted almost unanimously to publicly support the PQ.
FTQ president Henri Masse said the decision was based on the Liberals' record in dealing with unions and "government inaction'' in trying to stimulate the provincial economy.
The FTQ did not officially back a party in the 2003 Quebec election.