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Dramatic Turnaround – Liberals widen their lead over Marios PQ

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ciPremier Pauline Marois is struggling  to regain control of a floundering Parti Québécois election campaign amid signs the Quebec Liberal Party is widening its lead among voters in the final weeks of the election race and could be on track to form a majority government. The PQ Leader found herself on the defensive as Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard, now the perceived front-runner in the race, challenged her to release her family’s financial records, and she refused. Ms. Marois, eager to shift away from the topics of sovereignty and a referendum, tried to push the campaign onto the terrain of Liberal integrity. But Mr. Couillard struck back, announcing he will release his 2012 personal income tax returns as well as details on his personal assets and those of his spouse. The PQ has fumbled with early campaign issues such as sovereignty while the Liberals appear to be gaining momentum toward the April 7 vote. An opinion survey by Léger for the Journal de Montréal-Journal de Québec – the first extensive poll of the election – showed the Liberals surging ahead with 40 per cent of popular support, ahead of the PQ with 33 per cent, the Coalition Avenir Québec with 15 per cent and Québec Solidaire at 9 per cent.The survey corroborates indications that the PQ’s campaign began to stall around the time it unveiled star candidate Pierre Karl Péladeau and got entangled in debates about a referendum. The results draw a picture of the PQ unable to build strong leads in regions where the party believed it would do well. The Quebec City area, which forms the foundation of CAQ support, is now showing signs of crumpling under the Liberal campaign. Mr. Péladeau’s arrival focused attention on sovereignty after the media tycoon proclaimed he was backing the PQ to turn Quebec into a country.

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