Quebec Liberal Party Leader Dominque Anglade said Wednesday her party is “playing offence” even though it is still far short of a full slate of candidates several days into the provincial election campaign.
As of late Wednesday morning, the party that formed the official Opposition for the last four years was still lacking candidates in 16 ridings. In recent days, two candidates withdrew, and the party pulled a prospective candidate from the Richmond riding, east of Montreal.
Anglade promised her party will field a full slate of candidates for Quebec’s 125 electoral districts. “Not only will we have 125, but we’ll have a super team,” she told reporters in St-Agapit, Que., southwest of Quebec City.
She brushed off suggestions that the Liberals are having trouble with recruitment, adding that she expects to announce more candidates in the coming days. “For sure politics is an extreme sport, but that’s why I’m very happy to have people who raise their hands, who agree to come, to agree to campaign for months now,” she said.
The Liberal party has formed government after four of the last six elections but has been polling at less than 20 per cent support in recent months. Anglade denied that her campaign was off to a slow start or that crowds at her rallies have fallen short of expectations.
On Monday, she met a handful of party members at a restaurant in Quebec City to launch her campaign. On Tuesday, about 30 seniors went to see her during an activity in Montmagny, Que. The crowd sizes are far from what the party was able to mobilize for the campaigns of former Liberal leaders Jean Charest and Philippe Couillard.
She said her campaign was “playing offensive rather than defensive” by spending the first few days in the Quebec City region, hundreds of kilometres from her party’s traditional base around Montreal.
Anglade was also forced to defend some of her candidates who appear to hold views contrary to the official party line.
They include a Quebec City-area candidate who is in favour of a highway project in the Quebec City region that the Liberal party opposes, and a Montreal-area candidate who said earlier this week that he wasn’t worried about the decline of French in the province – in contrast to nearly all of Quebec’s political class.
The leader said she would never “muzzle” her candidates, but she said her own party’s positions are clear. “When it comes to the French language, whether it’s to protect it, to promote it, to take concrete actions, we have to do it, we have to put French forward,” she said.
The Coalition Avenir Quebec, the Parti Quebecois, Quebec solidaire and the Conservative Party of Quebec have all confirmed they have recruited candidates in all 125 ridings. Candidates have until Sept. 17 to file their nomination papers.
Quebecers head to the polls on Oct. 3.
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