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Premier François Legault says the fall provincial election campaign will launch “for real” on Sunday, following weeks of unofficial campaigning by political parties and billions of dollars already promised to voters.

Legault made the announcement Tuesday in a 26-second video uploaded to social media. He said the campaign will officially begin Aug. 28 and continue right up to voting day on Oct. 3.

“I want, of course, to wish a good campaign to all the candidates,” Legault said in the video, adding, “Aug. 28, it starts for real!”

Polls suggest Legault’s Coalition Avenir Quebec party holds a commanding lead heading into the campaign, and the party is widely expected to cruise to a second majority. A Leger poll published earlier this month found support for Legault’s party at 44 per cent, compared to 18 per cent for the second-place Quebec Liberals. Quebec solidaire and the Conservative Party of Quebec polled at 15 per cent and 13 per cent, respectively.

While the official first day of the campaign has yet to begin, all the major party leaders have already been naming candidates and making election promises in recent weeks.

The CAQ has promised billions of dollars in new projects. In mid-August, Legault promised $1.8 billion for thousands of new subsidized and affordable housing units. A week later, Families Minister Mathieu Lacombe pledged $1.4-billion over five years to convert more than 56,000 unsubsidized daycare spots into subsidized spaces.

On Tuesday, Legault announced he would create a $650-million fund to ensure the health of the province’s lakes and rivers if the party is re-elected. Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade, meanwhile, committed to ensuring that each Quebecker would have a family doctor under her leadership.

The once-mighty Parti Quebecois, which is struggling near the bottom of the polls, has promised affordable public transit, while the Conservatives under leader Eric Duhaime have already held an official campaign launch. Left-leaning Quebec solidaire, which made a breakthrough in the 2018 election by winning its first seats outside the Island of Montreal, has promised new funding for parents who can’t find daycare spots.

Quebec solidaire responded to Legault’s video on Tuesday with a Twitter message of its own, promising to carry out the “biggest campaign in its history.”

Despite the parties’ early start, the official campaign date remains important because it is from that moment that expenses are tracked and regulated according to rules set out in the Election Act.

As the legislature broke for the summer, Legault’s party had 76 seats, while the Quebec Liberals had 27, Quebec solidaire had 10 and the Parti Quebecois had seven. The Conservative Party of Quebec held one seat and there were four Independents.

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