Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Paul Martin on Quebec election results

Maybe they don't want a referendum right now--or at least many don't but if they are not satisfied with attempts to rectify the fiscal imbalance things could change quickly I expect. It will be interesting to see how long the Liberals can surive. The ADQ and PQ could very well get together where they share common ground and perhaps influence legislation and certainly they can modify Liberal bills or force an election.

Quebec election result 'significant': former PM
Last Updated: Tuesday, March 27, 2007 | 1:02 PM ET
CBC News
Calling the Quebec election result significant, former prime minister Paul Martin says the Parti Québécois's third-place finish shows Quebecers don't want "never-ending referendums."

"This is the first time in almost two generations that neither the government in office, nor Official Opposition is a separatist party," said Martin, who spoke to CBC Newsworld a day after Jean Charest's Liberals eked out a minority victory in the provincial election.

Former prime minister Paul Martin says the election of two parties that want to stay within Canada speaks 'to the mood in Quebec.'
(CBC) "You have … two parties that essentially want to stay in Canada and want to make Canada work and have another agenda, other than an immediate referendum.

"I think that does speak to the mood in Quebec," said Martin, who acknowledged federal Liberals are disappointed Charest didn't form a majority.

Charest's Liberals won 48 seats in Monday's vote, down from the 72 they held before the election call. Mario Dumont and the conservative Action Démocratique du Québec will form the Official Opposition with 41 seats, while the Parti Québécois dropped to 36 seats.

It's the first minority government the province has seen in 130 years, raising speculation about whether party leaders can work together.

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All three party leaders will hold news conferences on Monday afternoon.

Tom Pentefountas, a former vice-president of the ADQ, said it is an "open question" whether Dumont will work with Charest.

"I think we're going to have to sit down, the leadership of the ADQ, Mario Dumont, obviously, and we're going to have to decide what's in the best interest of Quebec," he said.

'We'll work night and day' to make federation work
Pentefountas said Dumont on the weekend shut the door "completely" on the idea of a coalition with Andre Boisclair and the Parti Québécois.

"Mario Dumont and the ADQ as a party believes that Quebec's future is within Canada," he said. "We'll work night and day to ensure that everyone gets along within this federation."

While campaigning on Sunday, Dumont rejected Boisclair's suggestion that a coalition between the two parties could push ahead with a sovereignty referendum.

Pentefountas said he's hopeful the strong support for his party marks the end of the traditional division of Quebec politics along federalist-separatist lines.

"During that time, we were bogged down by these two old parties and not discussing the issues that most healthy democracies are dealing with," he said. "We have $125 million in debt, our infrastructure is falling apart, education is falling apart, health care."

Pentefountas admitted even party insiders were taken aback by the strength of voter support.

"We were all surprised and that's the honest to God truth," he said with a laugh.

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