François Legault and Pauline Marois have both published their 2011 income tax returns, highlighting an unprecedented openness among the fierce rivals in the dying days of the Quebec election campaign.
The leaders of the Coalition Avenir Québec and the Parti Québécois are at each others' throats in the last weekend before the Sept. 4, but they have both agreed to open their personal books.
Both party leaders are deemed to be part of the upper class in Quebec, but their annual revenues are surprisingly similar and in the low six-figures. Mr. Legault, who made millions in the private sector before entering politics in 1998, disclosed revenues of $165,000 last year, mainly from his National Assembly pension.
Ms. Marois, whose husband made a fortune in real estate, revealed that she made $156,000 in 2011, almost entirely from her salary as an MNA and Opposition Leader.
According to recent polls, Ms. Marois's PQ is in first place in the election, while Mr. Legault's CAQ is in second place. The leader of the third-placed Quebec Liberals, Jean Charest, did not agree to the disclosure.
The numbers were published in Saturday's edition of La Presse, after both Ms. Marois and Mr. Legault made the undertaking in separate interviews with the Montreal daily's editorial board this week. The disclosure of income tax returns is a tradition in the United States, but a rarity in Canada.
This marks the first time that such figures are published by major party leaders in a Quebec election.
The PQ and the CAQ are the two leading contenders in francophone Quebec, and they are facing off on constitutional issues in the last weekend before the vote.
Ms. Marois told Le Devoir that she would appoint a minister of "democratic governance" who would be in charge on setting up a process for citizen-initiated referendums. She said the goal would be to ensure that citizens in all regions of the province are heard by the Quebec government.
"I want to develop a vision that would allow increased participation by citizens and for us to listen to the regions, Montreal and Quebec City, in order to adapt government programs," she said.
Mr. Legault responded by accusing the PQ of wanting to appoint a "minister of referendums," highlighting his own opposition to Quebec sovereignty.
"If Ms. Marois really loved Quebec, she shouldn't put us in a total division with a new referendum," he told reporters. "If we love Quebec, we should not propose a referendum."