Parti Quebecois releases election platform
The Canadian PressSaturday, March 08, 2014
LAVAL, Que. - The Parti Quebecois released an election platform on Saturday that put the proposed charter of values and protecting the French language at the top of its list of priorities.
A commitment to Quebec independence is featured in the platform's preamble, on the document's first page.
According to the document, the PQ will call a referendum when the time is right, but doesn't commit to a time frame. Until then, it will work to promote Quebec's interests within Canada.
That echoes comments made by PQ Leader Pauline Marois in recent days as she makes a push for a majority government in the April 7 election.
In her speech Saturday, Marois appeared to juggle the hopes of her PQ base for another referendum with an appeal to the broader Quebec public.
Polls suggest that support for independence hovers around 40 per cent.
"I want it as soon as possible, but we will not rush Quebecers," Marois told party members gathered at a Laval hotel on Day 4 of the election campaign.
"We will do it with this platform, and a government plan to build a stronger, more prosperous, more welcoming Quebec."
The PQ's platform laid out 36 commitments over 23 pages, ranging from identity issues to the job-creation and the environment.
There were few surprises and it was unanimously approved by party members.
Marois devoted much of her speech to slamming Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard.
She accused him of failing to stand up for Quebec and spending too much time defending Canada.
"That's all finished: Quebecers don't have to apologize for existing," Marois said to a round cheers.
Meanwhile, Couillard marked International Women's Day on Saturday with a promise to strengthen the place of women in business and politics.
Couillard said a Liberal government would have a cabinet consisting of between 40 and 60 per cent women.
"It's not our invention, it's a concept firmly established elsewhere," Couillard said in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu.
Couillard also announced measures to help increase the number of women on boards and in senior management of publicly traded companies.
In Montreal, Francois Legault, the head of the Coalition for Quebec's Future, unveiled his party's education plan.
Legault said he wants to abolish school boards in the province, a promise first laid out during the 2012 election.
But this time, citing a struggling economy, Legualt abandoned other education proposals — including a 9-to-5 school day and performance-based salaries for teachers.
- with files from Melanie Marquis in Montreal and Patrice Bergeron in Drummondville