The Quebec provincial election is set for September 4. With the campaign now half way through there is to be a key debate between leaders tonight (Aug 19) The ruling Liberal Party lead by premier Jean Charest is trailing in the polls.
The CBC(Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) will carry the debate from 8 PM to 10 PM eastern time. The debate will also be available on line at CBCNews.ca. The debate will be in French with English translation.
At dissolution of the provincial legislature on August 1st the ruling Quebec Liberals had 64 seats, the Parti Quebecois 47, the Coaltion Avenir Quebec 9 and Quebec Solidair 1. Recent polls show the Liberals trailing the PQ(Parti Quebecois)
An August 16 poll by Leger Marketing show the Liberals with 28%, the PQ with 33% and the up and coming CAQ(Coalition Avenir Quebec) with 27%. Quebec Solidaire has 6%. A bid by another party Option Nationale to take part in the debates failed as a court did not support their injunction to force the stations involved to include their leader.
Jean Charest of the Liberals claims he will be the target of the opposition groups:"I will be the target. There's no doubt about that...You know that. I know that. I have have been the target for the last four years, frankly, and that's what this debate will be about, so we'll just have to deal with it."
Although the general public supported Charest's raising of tuition fees that caused lengthy strikes and demonstrations by Quebec students many opposed the bill that imposed strict conditions on demonstrations and heavy penalties for breaking them. However, much criticism of Charest claims widespread corruption in the government especially in relation to the construction industry.
Charest in the past has triumphed in some debates. In 2003 after a debate with PQ leader Bernard Landry his poll numbers rose and he managed election in spite of predictions he would lose.
Francois Legault leader of the CAQ has less experience than the other two main party leaders will face a stiff test of his political skills. He is not known for his oratory and sometimes has had to take back statements he has made. However the party is doing well in the polls just behind the ruling Liberals. Quebec Solidaire a leftist party will have a chance to raise its profile.