With election rumours rampant, PQ announces four-year jobs plan
Published Monday, October 7, 2013 4:21PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, October 7, 2013 8:38PM EDT
MONTREAL -- Amid a slowing economy and rumours of a possible election, the Parti Quebecois government has announced a four-year jobs plan.
Premier Pauline Marois says the measures should create 43,000 new jobs at a cost of $2 billion by 2017.
They include $708.8 million in tax credits for businesses, a discount price on surplus hydro used by companies, renovating schools and community centres, and electric-transport projects.
The government had planned to erase a budget deficit this year and, although it has not explicitly renounced that promise yet, it has admitted that the economy is not as strong as expected.
Though the PQ is barely one year into its mandate, the province is rife with speculation that it might call an election next month, with its controversial values charter at the forefront of an identity-themed campaign.
It has come under attack in recent weeks by opponents who accuse it of using identity issues as a diversion tactic to shift the focus from bread-and-butter concerns.
If so, the religious-headwear initiative has not always gone smoothly: Two former PQ premiers, Jacques Parizeau and Lucien Bouchard, have called for it to be watered down, blunting the party message.
Asked at a news conference whether her four-year jobs plan is really just a prelude to an election platform, Marois replied, "Oh, la la," and said the main pillars have been in the works for months and flow from existing policy commitments.
In response to another question she said she was not thinking of an election -- but she did not explicitly rule one out, either.
"I can't stop you from thinking that," Marois said.
"But that's not the scenario we're working on."