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Fake Charest holiday notes appear in mailboxes, online Add to ...

Quebec's much-maligned premier had to fend off yet another attack on Tuesday - this one the handiwork of a letter-writing prankster.

A fake holiday greeting letter was circulating by regular mail and on the Internet with Premier Jean Charest's "signature" at the bottom.

The five-paragraph letter, written in impeccable French and on what appears to be official government letterhead, begins with season's greetings being extended to Quebecers.

Then the hoax begins to take shape.

Posing as Mr. Charest, the writer defends numerous tax and fee hikes and thanks Quebecers for their understanding and tolerance.

"We have to understand these rate increases are necessary to allow our richest friends to conserve their standard of living," the letter states.

"But they are equally necessary to show the poor that the era of solidarity is over."

The letter goes on to discuss the government's economic plan.

"Thank you dear conspirators, for defending our positions in all forums across the province," the letter says. "The privatization of profits and the socialization of costs are going well. Don't lose faith."

And while challenges await in 2011, the writer posing as Mr. Charest expresses confidence he can count on the "obedience" and "loyalty" of Quebecers to get through.

The bottom of the letter includes a number for the premier's office in Montreal.

No one has claimed responsibility for the forgery.

In Quebec City, the premier's office was not amused with the prank and a spokesman said there are concerns that Mr. Charest's identity has been usurped.

"All I can say about it is that we've called the police," said Hugo D'Amours, Mr. Charest's spokesman.

Quebec provincial police are investigating.

Mr. D'Amours agreed the letterhead looked quite authentic.

Mr. Charest has had to deal with numerous attacks on his leadership in the past year.

The premier has been under a near constant attack by the Opposition for his unwillingness to call a public inquiry into allegations of corruption in the construction industry.

His popularity has steadily dipped and polls have put his approval rating below 20 per cent. An online petition seeking to have him removed from office has generated close to a quarter of a million signatures.

Despite it all, Mr. Charest says he intends to seek a fourth term as premier.

Mr. Charest is the first Quebec premier in more than half a century to win three straight mandates.



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