Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Quebec Party Leaders Back on Campaign Trail after Visiting Tornado Victims

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Quebec Party Leaders Back on Campaign Trail after Visiting Tornado Victims

Article excerpt

Quebec party leaders back on campaign trail

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MONTREAL - The thorny issue of sovereignty re-emerged on the Quebec campaign trail on Sunday, as Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard suggested his Coalition Avenir Quebec rival hadn't totally given up on the idea of an independent Quebec.

With just over a week remaining in the campaign, Couillard questioned Francois Legault's federalist leanings, suggesting the former Parti Quebecois minister hasn't changed his stripes despite Legault's emphatic promise to never hold a referendum.

"He even said, some time ago: 'I'm not talking about (sovereignty) because the numbers aren't there,'" Couillard said in Vaudreuil, about half an hour west of Montreal.

"Does that mean that if the numbers change he will be in agreement again? You have to ask him the question."

Legault completely rejected the suggestion of his rival, who he accused of dusting off "the referendum scarecrow" out of desperation.

"The only referendum (question) is, 'Do we want 19 years of the Liberal party?" he said in Gatineau, Que.

"We've had 15 years, do we want another four years? Quebecers have turned the page on sovereignty, especially the youth."

On Saturday, Quebec's political party leaders largely put partisan politics aside as they gathered in Gatineau to express their solidarity for the victims of the tornado that devastated Canada's capital region.

That cameraderie appeared to have largely dissolved on Sunday, as Couillard criticized not only Legault but also Quebec solidaire's Manon Masse, whose promises he described as unrealistic.

Masse, whose party has been gaining in the polls, also found herself in the crosshairs of Parti Quebecois Leader Jean-Francois Lisee, who accused Quebec solidaire of "manipulating the electorate" and hiding the identity of its true leader.

Lisee doubled down on a criticism of Quebec solidaire's leadership structure that he first made last week during the final leaders' debate. …

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