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Marois takes aim at Charest: ‘You never win by dividing Quebec’

Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois smiles as she arrives at a pharmacy during an election campaign stop in Repentigny, Que., Saturday, August 11, 2012.

Graham Hughes/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois says her party is forging ahead with a new alliance of all generations, one that was built on the foundations of last spring's social unrest and will lead the party to victory in the Sept. 4 election.

Ms. Marois described it as the expression of the progressive changes Quebeckers are seeking in rejecting the power of money over the popular will for greater social justice.

"You never win by dividing Quebec. When you are the leader of the government you don't fight against your youths," she said to more than 1,000 cheering supporters during one of the biggest rallies of her campaign.

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Her remarks pointed to the numerous clashes between protestors and police at the height of the student strike against tuition fee hikes imposed by Liberal leader Jean Charest's government.

One of the speakers at Saturday night's rally in Laval was Léo Bureau-Blouin, a former leader of the student movement who at 20-years-old is seeking to become the youngest candidate ever to be elected to the National Assembly under the PQ banner.

Mr. Bureau-Blouin said the Charest government will pay a heavy political price for showing contempt toward the student movement by adopting legislation he said undermined their fundamental rights to hold peaceful demonstration and exercise their freedom of speech.

"Through our mobilization, we have built the foundation of a new alliance, an alliance of generations to preserve access to education and repeal a law worthy of a bygone era… an alliance of generations that will give us a country," Mr. Bureau-Blouin said.

He said in the last election only 20 per cent of voters aged 18 to 25 took the time to vote in several ridings. Young voters must turn out and vote if they hope to defeat the Liberals and pursue their quest for change, he said.

In her speech Ms. Marois renewed her attack against François Legault, the former PQ minister who is leader of the Coalition Avenir Quebec. The PQ was convinced that by saying he would vote No in a referendum, Mr. Legault had turned the page on trying to attract disaffected sovereignist voters and was now concentrating on winning over Liberals angry with the Charest government.

Ms. Marois highlighted the about face Mr. Legault has made on several issues, including a surprising reversal on Saturday when he announced the CAQ would seek to negotiate with Ottawa over the environment. A few moments later Mr. Legault said the talks would not take place during the first mandate of a CAQ government but at some later time.

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"It took him 10 years to do an about face on sovereignty, 10 months for an about face on fighting corruption, 10 days on the elimination of the health tax and 10 minutes to reverse his position on the environment … at that rate he will turn into a spinning top," she said.

The PQ campaign will continue to focus on northern Montreal suburban ridings where the CAQ threatens to make inroads – regions the PQ needs to win if it hopes to form a majority government.

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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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