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PQ should use public funds to promote independence: Parizeau

Former Quebec premier Jacques Parizeau addresses party delegates at the Option nationale congress in Montreal on March 2, 2013. Parizeau says the PQ government shouldn’t shy away from using public funds to work toward independence.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

Former Parti Québécois premier Jacques Parizeau is taking aim at the current party leadership, saying it should do more to promote sovereignty.

Parizeau, an influential figure who nearly led Quebec to independence in 1995, says the PQ government shouldn't shy away from using public funds to work toward independence.

The PQ recently denied charges from the opposition that it was using bureaucrats to develop a strategy to achieve sovereignty.

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Parizeau made the comments at a Saturday meeting for the fledgling, pro-independence party Option nationale.

The 82-year-old continues to build ties with the new party.

Option nationale didn't win any seats in the last provincial election but promises a more aggressive pursuit of Quebec statehood.

This isn't the first time Parizeau has been critical of the PQ.

Last month, he called on Premier Pauline Marois to consider a policy of free tuition at Quebec universities, even though the government had ruled out that possibility.

At the Option nationale meeting, Parizeau told a packed hall that the goal of Quebec independence remains attainable – and that the PQ should be doing all it can to make it happen.

"For 15 years, I've heard successive leaders of the Parti Quebecois say, 'We will not use public funds to promote sovereignty,"' he said Saturday.

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"Well, if you don't want to use public funds to promote sovereignty, why are you here?"

Jean-Martin Aussant, the leader of Option nationale, also took issue with the PQ's position, calling it an "abdication of leadership."

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