Election speculation mounts as PQ meets for caucus
Published Wednesday, February 5, 2014 12:45PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 6, 2014 7:35AM EST
The Parti Quebecois seems to have selected mid-April as the date for the next provincial election.
With recent polls showing the party has gained support from francophones in Quebec, even if the Charter of Values is not considered an election issue for most citizens, the party is preparing its next election campaign.
With support for the Charter splitting the province and the main opposition party coming across as confused about the issue, pundits suspect this is the party's best chance for a majority government.
Bernard Drainville, the minister in charge of the Charter, chose his words very carefully and said that a PQ government would apply the Charter of Values equally, everywhere in the province, despite demands from hospitals and Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre to abandon the idea.
"There will not be an exception," Drainville said. "We've decided that municipalities were going to be covered by the Charter and they're going to be covered by the Charter."
Drainville all but promised the Charter would become an election issue.
"I have no control on the election calendar. My responsibility is to try to push this Charter forward and to get it adopted. This is the responsibility I've been given by the premier and I do my work," said Drainville.
The National Assembly begins its winter session next week and will be in session for two weeks.
After a two-week break, sources say the government will table a budget, and then days later dissolve parliament and call an election for April 14.
If they were to call an election, the PQ would likely focus on two main themes -- its economic policies and the charter.
The budget is expected to be dismal news, with Quebec on track to post a $2.5 billion deficit if Finance Minister Nicolas Marceau can chop another half-billion dollars out of government spending in the next six weeks.
But while Marceau has previously said a balanced budget wouldn't be possible, he's now saying conditions have improved, pointing to the lower inflation rate.
If Marceau cannot find money to cut, Quebec will post a $3-billion deficit for 2012-2013.
When Marceau first presented his budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year he was anticipating a $1.5-billion deficit.
This week the provincial government is on a spending spree, with ministers making more than 80 announcements indicating where tax dollars will be spent.
A new video, posted last week to the party’s YouTube account, aims to stir up the nationalists and paints a rosy picture of an independent Quebec.
And ministers at the caucus say they're always fired up and ready to go to an election.
The party is confident enough Quebecers will buy into their agenda to give them a majority, and possibly even reach their ultimate goal -- to make Quebec its own country.