Leaders bicker over cash promises
Published Friday, August 10, 2012 9:28PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 14, 2012 3:12PM EDT
Jean Charest was on the warpath against the rival CAQ Friday, as the Liberal leader took aim at François Legault for his spending promises.
“Since the beginning of the campaign, we’re just about the only ones to talk about jobs and the economy,” said Charest. “Legault, meanwhile, has been in the casino with taxpayer money. The candidate who wants to clean up is writing checks to everyone,” said Charest launched at a press conference in a vocational training center in Val-d'Or in Abitibi-Témiscamingue.
In 10 days of campaigning, Legault has made promises worth $5 billion, according to the Liberal leader. That amount is disputed by the CAQ, which estimates that it has made promises worth $3 billion. In comparison, the Liberals say their promises are worth a mere $412 million in that same time.
Charest said that the CAQ is contradicting its own mission by abandoning fiscal discipline to attract votes.
“The former Action Democratique must be disappointed to learn that the leftist Legault decided to spend that money before balancing the budget,” said Charest.
Later Friday Legault shot back against Charest’s criticisms.
“I understand that the two old parties do not want to cut spending, they have no room to announce tax cuts and they are just jealous,” said the CAQ leader.
Charest once again replied in the ongoing back-and-forth, accusing Legault of being, “an accountant who cannot count,” and attacked him for being unable to present an accurate list of CAQ donors, referring erroneous member lists published by the CAQ in recent months.
Charest added that he hopes someone in the CAQ brings their leader back to his senses.
“Maybe a former ADQ member will tell him enough is enough, we can’t promise a clean-up and also promise to spend $5 billion in the first week of the campaign,” said Charest.
Charest also had some criticisms of PQ leader Pauline Marois.
“She said she wants to hold a referendum in the first term, that's what I understood. She said, ‘if I can, I will hold a referendum in the first term.’ Quebecers must take that into account,” said Charest.
Charest was greeted by about 20 protesters when he visited Rouyn-Noranda, where he promised a $50 million fund dedicated to distance learning in the aim of filling employment needs for the development of the Northern Plan.
Charest also announced an investment of $15 million over five years to establish the Academic Network of the Northern Plan, a network for distance education for students in the regions.
Charest closed his northern tour in Chapais Friday afternoon when he visited a thriving sawmill.
PQ leader not commenting on polls
Pauline Marois refused to comment on new polls suggesting that the campaign has turned into a three-way dogfight.
Speaking at a press conference in Quebec City Friday morning, Marois took Charest’s lead and also went after CAQ leader Francois Legault, musing about whether he had found a money tree, which she said would be needed to fund all of Legault’s promises.
Marois said that the CAQ promises would cost $4.3 billion, while Charest estimated the promises at $5 billion. Legault himself said that the CAQ promises were worth $3 billion.
She said Legault’s promises were makeshift and unfeasible.
Legault reacted to Marois’ descriptions with derision.
“She can go ahead and say my plans are makeshift, but she’ll never clean up the province. She has 17 candidates from the union movement, so forget about any chance of her cleaning up corruption,” said Legault.
“She’s got her hands tied, she’ll never be able to free space to maneuver and be able to lower taxes,” said Legault.
Marois repeated her promise Friday to abolish the $200 health care tax, which the Charest government passed in 2010.
She said her $1 billion tax cut would be offset by rising taxes on those who earn more than $130,000 and a cut in tax credit on dividends.
Marois responded to a poll that demonstrated that anglophones feel they have no other choice but to vote for the Liberals by saying that it’s time to get rid of an old and tired government and vote for the PQ.
“Many Quebec anglophones are progressives who believe in the social movement, I know them well enough, I’ve met them and enough times to know that they have a real solution at hand in voting for the PQ,” said Marois.
She said once again that the September 4 vote is an election, not a referendum and that citizens will have a chance to vote on another referendum when that times\ comes but she refused once again to rule out the possibility of holding a referendum if elected.
-With files from The Canadian Press