Liberals preparing for PQ to trigger fall election
Published Monday, October 21, 2013 2:55PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, October 21, 2013 10:34PM EDT
Leading in the polls, but with a risk of being painted by rivals as a party of stale faces and stale ideas, the Quebec Liberal Party says it will be ready if the Parti Quebecois government decides to launch a fall election.
The provincial party spent Sunday and Monday discussing tactics and strategy at a surprise caucus meeting in Quebec City.
Just over a year after the PQ were elected as a minority government, the Liberals have gained a slight lead in multiple public opinion polls.
Party leader Philippe Couillard said that 48 current MNAs have confirmed they will run for office again whenever an election is called, and the party is currently amassing candidates for the remainder of seats in Quebec.
Couillard said he hopes to run a clean, positive campaign that focuses on the Liberal's strength: the perception it is the best at dealing with the economy.
"I think people are fed up with the mean attacks between people and parties," said Couillard. "If someone else from another party has a good idea, I will say so.”
The caucus, however could be leaning too heavily on its experience for a lack of fresh faces.
Some Liberal MNAs are running for the seventh time.
“Any sporting team, it's a mixture of rookies and veterans that makes a difference, so we're going to present fresh ideas and a fresh team,” said long-time MNS and Liberal Caucus President Geoff Kelley.
Which new faces may join the team remains a matter of speculation, but some, like Montreal MNA Lawrence Bergman, said they couldn’t resist the call to run again.
“I saw the excitement of my constituents coming out to my nomination meeting,” he said.
Another challenge is how to campaign with less money under strict new financing rules. Couillard said it will be a more modest campaign.
“I think it's much better for democracy and to do politics in such an environment is, I think, much better than what existed before,” he said.
The Parti Quebecois government may have an emotional pitch to make with its Charter of Quebec Values, but the Liberals say they believe people want to focus on the economy instead.
“When somebody tells me that he's not interested in having a raise because he's going to have less money in his pocket, hey, I say there's a big problem there, let's solve that,” said Couillard.
Couillard is taking a risk by running for a seat in the Saguenay, in a riding where the PQ won by 6,000 votes last time over the Liberals
Couillard said he isn’t worried, adding that he believes people in Saguenay are ready to vote Liberal.
“I know there that the people are also preoccupied with what they see from the economic standpoint and also from the social standpoint when they see that the social fabric of Quebec is being damaged now by this irresponsible party,” he said.
So damaged, the Liberals believe, that it's worth an election sooner rather than later, even though polls suggest a Liberal victory is not a certainty.
The PQ will be holding a meeting this coming weekend where the decision about calling an election by the end of the year is reportedly on the agenda.
If the party decides, the National Assembly would likely come to a close in early November with an election possibly happening on Dec. 9, 2013.
Couillard also said on Monday that any election is going to come down to a two-way race between the PQ and the Liberal party, saying the Coalition Avenir Quebec has lost a lot of support in recent months.
"There are two big political parties in Quebec in terms of size, the PQ and the Liberal Party of Quebec."
"It's clear that the real alternative to the [current] government is the Liberal Party," said Couillard.