Political leaders ready for face-to-face debates
The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, March 27, 2014 7:19AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, March 27, 2014 12:45PM EDT
MONTREAL -- Quebec's political leaders will get together for their second televised debate tonight with the provincial election 11 days away.
Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois, the Liberals' Philippe Couillard, Coalition chief Francois Legault and Francoise David of Quebec solidaire will all be hoping to land a knockout punch in front of potentially millions of viewers.
Couillard will likely be the target of most of the attacks with recent polls suggesting the Liberals have had a dramatic upswing in support.
Legault says he will use the two-hour debate on the TVA network to remind Quebecers of the Liberals' economic record when they were in power between 2003 and 2012.
Quebec independence and political integrity will no doubt be hot topics tonight.
In the leaders' first debate last week, Couillard repeatedly brought up the spectre of a PQ majority government moving quickly to hold a sovereignty referendum.
Marois's response was that voters are choosing a government on April 7 and that no referendum will be held until Quebecers are considered ready and willing to have one.
Polls indicate a majority of Quebecers are opposed to a referendum on the province's political future.
If the first debate is anything to go by, Legault's strategy will be to portray the Coalition as a sound economic manager that will help the middle class.
Marois, meanwhile, will likely reiterate her government's intention to proceed with the party's controversial charter of values, which would prevent public-sector employees from wearing religious clothing and symbols on the job.
The charter has divided Quebecers but is popular with small-c conservatives -- a segment of the electorate that could help the PQ win ridings currently held by the Coalition.
The leaders' first clash was broadcast on Radio-Canada and Tele-Quebec.
Marois initially said she would participate in only one debate, but she finally agreed to take part in the showdown on TVA, the television network owned by star PQ candidate Pierre Karl Peladeau.