Quebec party leaders make final push for votes
Published Monday, September 3, 2012 2:11PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, September 3, 2012 11:12PM EDT
Voters in Quebec head to the polls Tuesday, the day after party leaders made a final attempt to appeal to voters in an election that could see the Liberals nine-year reign come to an end.
Recent polls suggest that in the tight race for Quebec’s top job, incumbent Premier Jean Charest’s Liberals are in third, trailing the newly formed Coalition for Quebec’s Future (CAQ) and the pro-sovereignty Parti Quebecois.
The latest numbers suggest the PQ is poised to form a minority government.
However, whether the polling numbers translate into votes is yet to be seen.
The 2008 provincial election saw dismal voter turnout, with close to half of Quebecers not casting a ballot.
Historically, ridings with a large proportion of anglophone voters have seen the lowest voter turnout.
Both Charest and PQ leader Pauline Marois campaigned in Quebec City on Monday, hoping to motivate supporters to cast a ballot in an area where polls suggests Francois Legault’s CAQ is leading.
With the numbers showing a tight race ahead, both Charest and Marois said they’re pleased with the campaigns they’ve led.
Charest reminded the crowd gathered in the province’s capital that a PQ government would mean a third referendum and further instability in Quebec.
“I think they understand, better than they did at the outset of the campaign, that Mme Marois’ government will be about referendums, about division, political instability and economic instability,” said Charest. “And the last thing in the world we need is that.”
However, during her stop in Quebec City, Marois said she’s pleased with the campaign she had led.
“I’m not perfect, but if you do the summary of my campaign, I think I win more often than I lose,” she said.
Legault promises no referendum
Meanwhile, Legault spent Labour Day Monday courting the anglophone vote, with his promise to not hold another referendum for the next 10 years.
“Some of them will test us, they’ll see if in the next government for four years, if we will respect our promises regarding the referendum,” said Legault. “But some of them already agree.”
During a campaign stop in Saint-Jérôme, several of Legault’s supporters said it’s time to turn the page on the referendum talk.
“The referendum question is like the same song we keep playing,” one supporter told CTV Montreal.
Both Legault and Charest have tried to use the prospect of a sovereignty referendum as a way to lure votes away from Marois, who has said she would like to hold a third independence vote -- but only if she’s certain that she can win one.
If the results of a recent CROP survey are true, however, those conditions aren’t yet in place. The survey places voter support for sovereignty at a cool 28 per cent.
McGill University political science professor Antonia Maioni said even if the PQ manages to win a majority government, Quebecers likely won’t see a referendum for at least two to three years.
“Mme Marois wants to make sure that she has the winning condition before she goes to the Quebec people,” Maioni told CTV News on Monday. “And it doesn’t look like support for sovereignty will give her a winning referendum any time soon.”
Students rally on eve of election
Meanwhile, students in the province staged what’s likely to be the last rally before the election on Monday.
After months of turmoil that followed the announcement of the Liberal tuition hike, some high-profile student activists have thrown their support behind the PQ.
Student Alanna Boileau told CTV News that she doesn’t believe a vote for the PQ is a vote for separation.
“If you’re voting for the PQ, you’re voting for a government that might hold a referendum if it is the will of the population, which sounds like democracy to me.”
Other students, however, are more skeptical of what may follow a PQ win, and warn that Charest shouldn’t be unseated at any cost.
“One of our fears is that people didn’t realize the deal they were signing by doing (voting PQ),” said Concordia University student Julia Reading.
Liberals file robocalls complaint
As party leaders spent Monday attempting to woo undecided voters, the Liberal party filed a complaint with the provincial police and election officials over so-called robocalls being made on their behalf.
The Liberal party said fake robocalls were made in English to French-speaking voters in Quebec City.
“A similar strategy has been used over the last few days in Laval, with actual callers repeatedly calling electors with an aggressive tone while falsely presenting themselves as Liberals,” reads a statement issued by the party on Monday.
Liberal spokesperson Jonathan Abecassis said the party is determined to find out who is behind the calls.
“The preoccupation we have is who did this, why and what their end game is,” he said.
As the party’s supports drops, some question whether the Liberal’s can hold on to official opposition status.
“With the Liberal numbers slipping, (Jean Charest’s) own supporters start to question,” political analyst Bruce Hicks told New Channel on Sunday. “So his own riding is something to look at.”
Meanwhile, support for the CAQ has gained momentum with Legault positioning the party as the only ballot option able to stave off a PQ government.
With reports from CTV Montreal