Quebec leaders make final push for votes

MONTREAL — Pauline Marois made a last-ditch appeal to supporters on Sunday to get out and vote for her Parti Quebecois on election day, ruling out any kind of deals with the Coalition party to shore up her party if it wins another minority government.

MONTREAL — Pauline Marois made a last-ditch appeal to supporters on Sunday to get out and vote for her Parti Quebecois on election day, ruling out any kind of deals with the Coalition party to shore up her party if it wins another minority government.

“I want to obtain the confidence of Quebecers,” she said when the possibility was raised in a campaign swing through the Quebec City region. “I am asking for their confidence.”

Marois and Quebec’s other political leaders were in their final sprint to round up support in what appears to be a tight race to victory in Monday’s election.

Opinion polls indicate Philippe Couillard’s Liberals are in the lead so all leaders know every vote counts.

Marois suggested during a campaign stop that no one is better than the PQ at getting out the vote. She said there isn’t as much activism in the other parties — not that there’s anything wrong with that.

“But we know activism in the Parti Quebecois, which is driven by our commitment to Quebec and means that we are ready to put in more time,” she told her troops.

She insisted that she is optimistic about today’s results despite what recent polls have indicated.

“My instincts tell me that on Monday night, we’re going to be very happy,” she said. “Things are telling me that we’re going to elect a Parti Quebecois government.”

Victory would be sweet for Marois considering how the PQ’s campaign went off the rails almost from the day it started on March 5.

The PQ had been considered a sure bet to upgrade their minority government status to a majority, coasting to victory using their popular — albeit controversial — secularism charter, which was to be the party’s No. 1 priority in the campaign.

That all changed within days, when star candidate Pierre Karl Peladeau announced his candidacy with a fist-pumping declaration that he wanted an independent Quebec for his children.

After that, the secularism charter and pretty much everything else was shoved into the background as Marois was put on the defensive over her desire to hold a sovereignty referendum if elected premier.

Although she mused for a few days what an independent Quebec would be like, Marois insisted there would be no referendum until Quebecers were ready. That seemed to fall on deaf ears.

Attempts to shift the debate floundered until the last two weeks when the Liberals had already started to gain momentum and the PQ had some success putting the focus on ethics and secularism.

But even that backfired to a degree as questions were raised about alleged fundraising activities by Marois’s husband. He and Marois have denied any wrongdoing.

And Marois was put on the defensive again after one of her candidates said public servants who disobeyed the secularism charter would be fired.

The PQ leader said she hoped it would not come to that and that efforts would be made to help the employees find other jobs in the private sector. The charter would prohibit public sector workers from wearing such religious garb as kippas and hijabs on the job.

For his part, Couillard flew to Quebec’s remote regions to promote his message on Sunday, undertaking a marathon that took him to the Gaspe, then the North Shore area and his Roberval riding where he will spend election day.

He said a government led by him would promote wind power and tourism and address many issues that concern the regions, such as better roads and health care.

One person who had genuine reason for glee on Sunday was Coalition party Leader Francois Legault, who had seen support steadily slumping in the polls until recently when there was a significant rebound.

Poll numbers, including one released on Saturday, indicate support for the Coalition is now is just shy of where it was in the 2012 election when the fledgling party picked up 19 seats in the 125-seat legislature.

“It’s true there were some difficult moments at the start,” he said in Montreal. “It was almost a referendum election.”

Legault said he focused on issues that interested voters while his opponents concentrated on whether or not there would be a sovereignty referendum in the future.

He said he believes his strategy will pay off on election day with voters choosing his third option instead of the PQ and Liberals as they have always done.

“You need courage for change but I think we have to have courage in Quebec,” he said.

— With files from Canadian Press reporters Alexandre Robillard in Quebec City and Melanie Marquis in Montreal

Follow (at)nelsonwyatt (at)arobillard (at)melmarquis on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

File photo
Gov’t of Alberta identifies estimated 300 new COVID-19 cases Sunday

Online COVID-19 dashboard unavailable as upgrades being completed

The Central Alberta Freestyle Ski Club is hoping to win $50,000 through the Mackenzie Investments Top Peak contest. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta ski club trying to win $50K in online contest

A central Alberta ski club has entered a contest where it can… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Red Deer dips below 300 active COVID-19 cases

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Red Deer continued to drop… Continue reading

Ben King scores for the Red Deer Rebels during the third period of a Western Hockey League game against the Calgary Hitmen at the Westerner Park Centrium Saturday. (Photo by Rob Wallator/Red Deer Rebels)
Rebels complete comeback to pick up first win of season

Rebels 3 Hitmen 2 (OT) The Red Deer Rebels were able to… Continue reading

Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan takes part in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa on December 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Conservatives to call top Sajjan, Trudeau aides to testify on Vance allegations

OTTAWA — The federal Conservatives plan to summon two senior Liberal aides… Continue reading

Elvira D'Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Several provinces were preparing to loosen COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday, as Canada’s… Continue reading

Mount Pearl Senior High in Mount Pearl, N.L., remains closed on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. The provincial health authority says there were 185 cases at 22 schools, including 145 infections among staff and students of one high school in Mount Pearl that was an early epicentre of the outbreak. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly
In Newfoundland and Labrador, three ingredients made for explosive COVID-19 outbreak

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — With her classes, three part-time jobs and a… Continue reading

A passenger places a tag on luggage at the departure terminal at Toronto Pearson Airport, in Mississauga, Ont., Friday, May 24, 2019. The economic and life disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many recent immigrants to leave Canada and return to their countries of origin, where they have more social and familial connections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
COVID-19 pandemic prompts recent newcomers to leave Canada for their home countries

OTTAWA — The economic and life disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic… Continue reading

Rail cars wait for pickup in Winnipeg, Sunday, March 23, 2014. The fierce debate over cross-border pipelines is putting more Canadian oil and gas on trains destined for the United States — a country experts fear is ill-equipped for the potential consequences. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
As debate rages over cross-border pipelines, U.S. analysts brace for more oil by rail

WASHINGTON — The fierce debate over cross-border pipelines is putting more Canadian… Continue reading

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

VICTORIA — Legal experts and a mother whose ex-partner was convicted of… Continue reading

Radio and television personality Dick Smyth is shown in an undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
Dick Smyth, Canadian maestro of news radio commentary, dies at 86

TORONTO — Radio and television personality Dick Smyth, whose booming commentary filled… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Funeral for Walter Gretzky to be held Saturday in home town of Brantford, Ont.

The funeral for hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s father Walter will take place… Continue reading

Most Read