Parti Quebecois leadership hopeful Jean-Francois Lisée is trying to appeal to youth and to Quebecers who are not terribly interested in independence.

Meanwhile Alexandre Cloutier is calling on international students to move to Quebec's rural areas to find work.

Campaigning on Sunday, Lisée pitched his plan for youth in poorer neighbourhoods to have equal access to education.

"I propose to give more resources to schools in poor districts, to make sure that they have more teachers per children, more support per children, more autonomy for the team in these schools," said Lisée.

He also appealed to Quebecers who are weary of the decades-long debate over Quebec's independence by promising a PQ government would not hold a referendum in its first mandate.

"We pledge not to have a referendum in these four years. Let's have a good government and let's francophones, anglophones and others joins together to have the best possible government," said Lisée.

He proposed that during the by-elections due this fall, that the PQ and Quebec Solidaire join to support one candidate in the riding of Verdun. That riding has been a Liberal stronghold ever since it was created in 1966, but was vacated last week when Jacques Daoust resigned from politics.

Lisée's decision to support one common candidate in one by-election, and to promote good government over the PQ's raison d'etre of an independent Quebec, comes as yet another poll shows support for separation is limited to about one-third of voters, while support for the PQ is even lower.

Throughout this year polls by CROP and Leger show support for the PQ hit a high point in March of 30 percent, but dropped to 25 percent in June following the resignation of Pierre Karl Peladeau, and has remained there all summer.

Lisée said this is due in part to anglophones and allophones supporting the Liberal party despite a rash of scandals.

"They're not convinced of our project to make Quebec a sovereign country but that doesn't mean that we cannot speak together and convince them," said Lisée.

He said Daoust's resignation and the subsequent cabinet shuffle that left Robert Poeti on the back benches was yet another example of the Liberals taking support for granted.

Given Poeti's desire to reform the Transportation Ministry, Lisée said it smelled fishy to not give him the opportunity.

"Now you know and you have the opportunity to bring him back. He is Mr. Clean and he doesn't. Why is that?" said Lisée.

Cloutier on rural tour

Campaigning in Sept Iles, Cloutier said Quebec could do more to encourage international students and improve immigration.

He suggested the province could reimburse school fees for international students who end up staying in Quebec to work in rural areas.

Cloutier proposed the idea while pointing out that the rate of growth of Quebec's population has dropped for the fifth year in a row.

International university students pay about $14,500 per year in tuition fees to study in Quebec.

Cloutier proposed offering a $8,500 tax credit over three years for those who work in rural areas.

There are five candidates running to replace Peladeau as PQ leader, although Veronique Hivon suspended her campaign last week as she deals with a debilitating ear infection.

Voting for the PQ leadership takes place from Oct. 5 to 7.  

With a file from The Canadian Press