Pauline Marois pleaded with Quebecers to defeat the Liberals if they wanted to continue the fight against corruption and avoid the “worst” from happening.
The Parti Québécois leader adopted what may be her last campaign strategy to avoid defeat after witnessing a sharp decline in francophone voter support according to public opinion polls released on Saturday.
Quebec poll results, April 5
“We cannot, we must not return to the Liberal years. There are moments in history when a nation must not be brought to its knees and must stand-up. A lot of francophones don’t want to return to the Liberal years,” she told 400 cheering supporters Saturday evening at the party’s final rally before Monday’s vote.
Ms. Marois warned that if the Liberals form the next government the recommendations from the Charbonneau Commission will simply be shelved and never implemented. The commission was created in the Fall of 2011 by the former Liberal government under then premier Jean Charest who resisted two years to political pressures before creating a public inquiry. The commission has the mandate to probe corruption in the construction industry, the awarding of government contracts and the financing of political parties. The Commission will table its report in the spring of 2015.
“With the Liberals you can forget about integrity,” Ms. Marois said at the Trois-Rivières rally, the same city where she launched her campaign on March 5. “The Liberals deserve a minimum of four more years in opposition.”
The PQ leader didn’t mince words in launching her final attacks against frontrunner Philippe Couillard, the Liberal leader she said was unprepared to govern Quebec. “With the Liberals-and I choose my words carefully - it will be a disaster for our language and our culture…The only way to stop the worse from happening is to vote for the Parti Québécois,” Ms. Marois said.
On Saturday two public opinion polls confirmed the Liberal lead and the strong possibility Mr. Couillard could form the next government after only 18 months in opposition.
The Liberals were at 38 per cent support, ahead of the Parti Québécois at 29 per cent, down four percentage points from the last Léger poll. The Coalition Avenir Quebec meanwhile showed 23 per cent support, an eight percentage point jump from a Léger poll 10 days ago.
An Angus Reid Global survey released Saturday showed similar overall results, with the Liberals at 39 per cent and a 12 percentage point lead on the PQ among likely voters. That survey of 1,410 Quebeckers conducted April 2 through Friday showed the CAQ just two points behind the PQ.
The most critical numbers, however, are how each party fares among francophones, as they will cast the decisive ballots in most of Quebec’s swing ridings in Monday’s election.
The Angus Reid survey showed the PQ with only a one point advantage over the Liberals among Francophone voters. That kind of result Friday would give the Liberals a majority.
The Léger poll, meanwhile, showed the PQ at 35 per cent compared to 29 per cent for the Liberals and 23 per cent for the CAQ. If the results are reflected in the election, they would lead to a Liberal government but a majority would be far from guaranteed with the unpredictable split among francophones.
With a report from Les Perreaux in Saint-Ours,Quebec.