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Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) leader Francois Legault (L) and Liberal leader Jean Charest talk before a Quebec leaders' debate in Montreal August 19, 2012. Quebec voters will go to the polls in a provincial election on September 4. (CHRISTINNE MUSCHI/REUTERS)
Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) leader Francois Legault (L) and Liberal leader Jean Charest talk before a Quebec leaders' debate in Montreal August 19, 2012. Quebec voters will go to the polls in a provincial election on September 4. (CHRISTINNE MUSCHI/REUTERS)

CAQ, Liberals battle it out for second place in Quebec: poll Add to ...

The Coalition Avenir Québec has stalled and is now in a race for second place with the Quebec Liberals, according to the latest poll on the Quebec election campaign.

According to CROP, the numbers have stabilized four days ahead of the Sept. 4 election. The Parti Québécois has lost one point but remains in the lead with the support of 32 per cent of Quebeckers. The CAQ is still at 28 per cent and the Quebec Liberals are stable at 26 per cent. The left-wing separatist party Québec Solidaire has grown to 9 per cent, up from 7 per cent in the previous poll, which could hurt the PQ in tightly fought ridings.

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The results suggest a tight race on Sept. 4, with the PQ in position to form a minority government and a battle for second place between the CAQ and the Liberals, according to CROP.

The CAQ is the party that has shown the most growth in popular support during the summer election, but it does not seem to be in a position for victory at this point of the campaign.

The poll was conducted between August 27 and 29, with 1,002 respondents providing a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points. Results could still change between now and election day as 22 per cent of respondents said their vote remains in flux and 12 per cent of voters are still undecided.

All three main parties in the race are colliding in the last days of the campaign on the thorny issue of Canada-Quebec relations. PQ Leader Pauline Marois said in an interview with The Globe and Mail that she would lead a “sovereigntist government” that would seek immediate transfers of federal powers from the Harper government.

Liberal Leader Jean Charest, meanwhile, is presenting himself as the only force that can block the separatist Parti Québécois from taking office. While Mr. Charest’s position confirms a PQ lead in the polls, it aims to attract the support of all federalists in the province, including those who are supporting the CAQ.

“Anyone thinking of voting for the CAQ is going to end up with Pauline Marois. That’s what the real politics is here,” Mr. Charest said on Thursday.

On Friday, CAQ Leader François Legault said he is doubtful that a PQ government could wring any concessions out of the federal government.

Mr. Legault said he would support PQ demands that are in Quebec’s interests, but he cautioned that chances of obtaining new powers or funding would be low.

“A PQ government would have no credibility to negotiate with Ottawa. We know that they have a secret agenda and that they want a referendum,” Mr. Legault said at a news conference. “Their strategy is to fail in order to try and demonstrate that federalism doesn’t work.”

Mr. Legault said that he wants to lead a CAQ government that would neither promote federalism or sovereignty, pointing to a poll stating that support for the PQ’s constitutional position is going down.

“Let’s stop being in denial. That’s not what Quebeckers want to talk about,” Mr. Legault. “We’re in the camp of people who don’t want a referendum.”

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