No provincial election this year: PQ
Published Saturday, October 26, 2013 12:20PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, October 26, 2013 6:56PM EDT
Premier Pauline Marois says her government doesn't want a provincial election in 2013.
Marois said Saturday that she plans to forge ahead with her plans for a charter of Quebec values, economic stimulus and transport electrification and defending Quebec against Ottawa on Bill 99 and the process of naming a Quebec judge to the Supreme Court.
The Quebec premier says she made the decision after a two day retreat with her Parti Quebecois cabinet in Saint Michel des Saints.
For weeks there had been rumours that the minority PQ would call an election this fall and make identity politics a key issue in the campaign but this week several ministers suddenly sowed the seeds of doubt into that speculation, as they stressed the need to continue what they had started.
Journalists camped out at the conference awaiting for election news were kept out in the cold, as the PQ caucus remained tight-lipped about what was being discussed inside.
There had been some speculation that rising support for the values charter might offer the PQ a chance to score a majority in an election.
According to a CROP poll from September 18, the PQ had managed to reduce the Liberals lead from 14 percent to just 5 percent since May and had a lead among francophones.
Marois doesn't entirely control the electoral timetable, as opposition Liberals and CAQ, who together hold a majority of the seats, could conceivably vote down the government and trigger an election.
That is considered unlikely, however, as the party led by Francois Legault currently lags in the polls and would likely not want to go to election until their numbers improve.
The premier will call two byelections right after the November 3 municipal elections - in Viau and Outremont ridings - and won't run a PQ candidate in Viau.
She said that is where Liberal leader Philippe Couillard should run so he can get a seat in the National Assembly. Couillard has repeatedly stated that he prefers to wait to run in a seat in the Lac St. Jean region where he lives.
Couillard said Saturday that he would now consider running in one of the upcoming byelections.
In the meantime Liberal MNA Jean-Marc Fournier has been handling responsibilities of Leader of the Opposition.
"They analyzed the situation and realized that they don't have the trust of Quebecers," said Fournier about the PQ decision.
Just prior to the announcement the Liberals appeared to still be gearing up for an election.
Couillard, at a Liberal conference to announce the party's updated code of ethics in Montreal Saturday, roused a crowd of 400 with a call for a Liberal majority and denounced the PQ as "cynical."
"Soon we will turn this bad government into a bad memory," Couillard said.
CAQ and Quebec Solidaire weigh in
The other two opposition parties also welcomed the announcement that there will be no fall election.
CAQ leader François Legault was not available to comment on the announcement Saturday but his press secretary Jean-François Del Torchio said that the PQ will face close scrutiny when it presents its next budget.
"In the meantime, the government must file its economic update in the coming weeks, that's when Quebecers will realize the situation that the PQ has placed the province in," Del Torchio wrote in an email.
Quebec Solidaire MNA Françoise David said that she was "very happy" that no election is on the horizon but said that her party is ready nonetheless for a vote at any time.
"We have worked hard to prepare for the last month, so we're ready either way," said David.
-With a file from The Canadian Press