Quebec election called for September 4
Quebec Premier Jean Charest poses for a photographer with two tourists as he leaves a meeting with the province's lieutenant-governor accompanied by his wife Michele Dionne, Wednesday, August 1, 2012 in Quebec City. Charest called a provincial election for Tuesday, Sept. 4. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Published Wednesday, August 1, 2012 11:20AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, August 1, 2012 1:12PM EDT
QUEBEC - Premier Jean Charest has announced plans to call a provincial election vote on Sept. 4.
His office released a statement saying he will visit the province's lieutenant-governor at 10:55 a.m. today and request a dissolution of the legislature.
Should Charest win, he would tie a provincial record with four consecutive victories.
But his Liberals are involved a tough three-way race and, if the polls are to be believed, they will enter the campaign as underdog against the Parti Quebecois.
The campaign's dark horse is the Coalition for Quebec's Future; the new party has attracted much attention with its promise to bring together separatists and federalists while improving the economy.
The Charest cabinet is holding its last pre-election meeting in Quebec City.
After that, the premier will cross the street to visit the lieutenant-governor and set the vote date for Quebec's 40th general election.
The premier is expected to campaign on a theme of stability. He will argue that his Liberals stand for economic order while his PQ opponents encourage disorderly street protests and chaos in the markets with their pursuit of Quebec independence.
The PQ will reply that Charest doesn't deserve another term, given all the ethics scandals in the province including several that have swirled around his own government.
In fact, PQ Leader Pauline Marois held a news conference before the expected election call this morning and made it clear that integrity and ethics will be a key issue as she tries to oust a "tired and corrupt government."
"We will put an end to the influence of money in politics," she said in Quebec City. "As opposed to the Liberals, we have chosen honesty."
Marois also took aim at Ottawa, saying the federal government stands firmly in the way of Quebec's values and economic interests.
"We want Quebec to stand tall against the Canada of Stephen Harper.... Canada has become a risk for Quebec."
"Rather than being a distinct province, we would prefer that Quebec become a normal country."
The Pequistes will also charge during the campaign that the province should set higher royalty rates for mining companies that operate in the North.
They have also proposed a series of democratic reforms.
The most controversial one would allow citizens to initiate their own referendums, on independence or other topics, if they gather enough signatures on a petition. The measure is inspired by pratices in other countries, including the United States.
The PQ would also allow 16-year-olds to vote and would reduce the limit on political donations to $100.