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Marois ready to take reins of power as PQ holds onto lead in polls

Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois speaks to reporters during an election campaign stop in Saint-Jerome, Que., Wednesday, August 15, 2012.

Graham Hughes/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois says she has her transition team in place and is ready to take over the reins of power.

The team was set-up "several weeks ago," she said and was beginning to prepare for a PQ victory in the Sept. 4 election.

"We have been preparing since the beginning of the year because we thought an election would be called in the spring," Ms Marois said. "I contacted experienced people ... to reflect with me on the organization of ministerial committees and the organization of a cabinet."

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She refused to say who was part of the transition committee and whether former PQ premiers were consulted.

Ms. Marois denied she was being overconfident by preparing for the take-over of power even though public opinions indicate the PQ may form the next government.

She said the party had to be prepared to take office immediately following a victory and that refusing to envisage the possibility of forming a government would be irresponsible.

"I can't allow myself to improvise and behave like an amateur in dealing with something as serious as this," Ms. Marois said. " I've seen transitions before. I experienced it under (former PQ premier) Jacques Parizeau and I can say that it was well prepared."

The PQ, she added, was campaigning to form a majority government. Ms. Marois has no plans to form an alliance with Coalition Avenir Quebec should voters hand her a minority government.

A survey conducted by the polling firm CROP for the Montreal daily La Presse showed the PQ maintaining its lead with 34-per cent support. This was a seven point lead over the governing Liberals at 27 per cent and with the CAQ under leader François Legault closing in fast with 25 per cent.

All eyes are on the volatile francophone vote which will determine the outcome of the election with close three-way races taking shape in several ridings.

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The CROP poll gave the PQ a comfortable lead among francophone voters with 39 per cent followed by the CAQ at 26 per cent and the Liberals at 21 per cent.

The poll also showed an increase in undecided voters compared to the last CROP survey. The number of undecided jumped from 11 per cent to 19 per cent according to the poll.

The numbers indicate that the leaders debates that begins on Sunday could have a real impact on the campaign. The traditional all-party leaders debate will include the leaders of four parties: the Liberals, the PQ, the CAQ as well as Quebec Solidaire.

Then under a new format the three major party leaders will confront each other during an hour-long one-on-one debate that will be spread over the following three days.

Meanwhile, in lauding Canada's economy in its annual report Thursday, Moody's Investors Service cited the issue of Quebec sovereignty as one of the few potential risks – but rated the chance of Quebec independence as very low.

"At this time, the issue of sovereignty does not appear high on the agenda, and a near-term move toward another referendum seems unlikely despite some changes in the political configuration in the province. Even if there were to be an increase in sentiment for sovereignty, it is not clear that this would have a significant effect on the Canadian government's financial position."

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The CROP poll published on Thursday was conducted between Aug. 12 and Aug. 14 and surveyed 1,005 eligible voters by telephone. A poll this size is considered accurate within (+ or –) 3.1 per cent 19 times out of 20.

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About the Author
Quebec City political correspondent

Rhéal Séguin is a journalist and political scientist. Born and educated in southern Ontario, he completed his undergraduate degree in political science at York University and a master's degree in political science at the Université du Québec à Montréal.Rhéal has practised journalism since 1978, first with Radio-Canada in radio and television and then with CBC Radio. More

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