The Coalition Avenir Québec is hoping to pull off an electoral feat by coming to power on Sept. 4 with about half the budget of its adversaries and little organizational heft on the ground.
CAQ Leader François Legault has garnered much media attention during the election campaign with his high-profile candidates and his constant vow to “clean up” the province’s ethical and financial mess.
However, the countdown to the election has started with only 9 days left in the campaign – and issues such as the lack of a full advertising budget and fewer organizers come into play.
The CAQ has attracted staff and voters from the Parti Québécois and the Quebec Liberal Party. However, its $4-million campaign is estimated to be at least half of its rivals’, which can spend up to $11-million during the race.
“Obviously, the Coalition Avenir Québec is less than one year old, so we don’t have the same electoral machine as the two old parties,” Mr. Legault said. “Still, on the ground, people have a thirst for change and there is no machine that can stop that thirst for change.”
Mr. Legault added that he is confident that with hard work, “we’ll have a pleasant surprise on Sept. 4.”
The CAQ campaigned in the Outaouais on Sunday, just across the river from Ottawa, which is a traditionally Liberal region both at the provincial and federal levels. The region swung clearly to the NDP in the last federal election, however, and the CAQ is hoping that it will steal one or two Liberal seats in the next election.
Mr. Legault took a shot at Liberal Leader Jean Charest, who was also in the Outaouais on Sunday.
“He knows he is in trouble,” Mr. Legault said. “He is feeling the heat.”
The CAQ hammered away at the issue of health care during its stop in Gatineau, pointing to the region’s long waiting times and shortage of doctors and nurses despite nine years under a Liberal regime.
Mr. Legault wants to cut Quebec’s spending on pharmaceuticals by $500-million a year, and spend the money on improving access to doctors. The CAQ argues that it is the only party willing to shake up the system and ensure that all Quebeckers have a family doctor in one year.
“They have been able to do this in other countries,” Mr. Legault said. “I don’t see why we wouldn’t be able to do this in Quebec.”