Anglophone voters are being invited to shape the future of the province, and the invitation is coming from an unlikely source: the leader of a party whose primary mandate is to secede from the rest of Canada.
In a short video posted to YouTube on Sunday, Option Nationale Leader Jean-Martin Aussant appeals to anglophones to help the province "reach its full potential."
"As long as we let someone else decide for us, we will never be what we could be," Aussant says, staring directly into the camera.
"No matter what your mother tongue is, you will benefit from a more prosperous Quebec. It is time for all Quebecers to build a country of their own, and we all know what it is."
The party posted a similar appeal in Spanish.
Few parties go to the trouble of producing English ads in Quebec provincial election campaigns.
There are no English debates scheduled.
Parti Québécois Leader Pauline Marois recently declined a chance to participate in such an event hosted by an English-language Montreal radio station, saying her command of the language isn't strong enough.
On the campaign trail, leaders often only speak in English at events in response to reporters' questions, not during the bulk of the announcement itself.
It's rare to see a direct appeal to voters in English, especially one produced by a party that makes no qualms about its nationalist ambitions.
On Tuesday, the PQ promised its government would introduce new restrictions on the English language in some places if elected.
During a campaign stop on the Gaspé peninsula, Marois said that within her first year in power, she would bring down a new tougher Bill 101 because, she said, the use of French is on the decline in Montreal.
Option Nationale's platform also includes a promise to reaffirm French as the official and common language of Quebec and make knowledge of the language a mandatory requirement for anyone immigrating to the province except in exceptional circumstances.
This election marks the first on the ballot for the party, founded in 2011by Aussant, who split from the Parti Québécois earlier that same year.
Its mandate advocates for autonomy and clear-cut independence for the province.
Two days after the Option Nationale video was posted, it had been viewed more than 2,500 times.
That's 1,500 more views than the party's French-language video, posted the same day, advocating for free education for every Quebecer.
Key Quebec Election Issues
As Quebec begins a provincial election campaign, with a vote scheduled for Sept. 4, here are some key issues and the stated positions, so far, of the three largest parties: the Liberals, the Parti Quebecois and the Coalition for Quebec's Future.<br><br><em>With files from CP</em>
Liberals say their $254-a-year, seven-year tuition increases will improve universities while expanded loans and bursaries programs will actually leave the poorest students better off. Liberals have mostly refused to budge in face of protests, although their original proposal was for $325-a-year increases over five years. Their controversial Bill 78 would reopen classes in mid-August for one-third of students still on strike, while setting out severe fines for anyone blocking schools.<br><br>PQ has been more supportive of protesters and would cancel the hikes, propose smaller increases pegged to inflation and hold provincial summit on university funding.<br><br>The Coalition has positioned itself to occupy the middle ground, proposing more modest annual tuition increases of $200 a year over five years. Party originally voted for Bill 78 but now says it created unnecessary tension and wants some provisions suspended.
After two years of intense pressure, Charest Liberals called a corruption inquiry that is now probing malfeasance in construction industry and its ties to political parties and organized crime. Before that, they had announced plans to hire more oversight officials at Transport Department; tougher fines for engineering firms; stricter political fundraising laws; new rules for public-works tendering; and new anti-corruption squad that has since made numerous arrests.<br><br>PQ making ethics central plank of platform. It wants tougher legislation preventing companies guilty of tax evasion from winning public contracts. It also proposes new measures to combat voter cynicism including: citizen-initiated referendums, fixed election dates, political donations limited to $100 a year, and the right to vote at age 16.<br><br>The Coalition wants new integrity commissioner to oversee government contracts, and new powers for prosecutors, as part of a "big cleanup." It also promises fixed election dates.
Liberals will tout Plan Nord, a sweeping plan that sets out $80 billion in public and private investments in mining, energy, infrastructure and conservation projects over a quarter-century.<br><br>PQ accuses Liberals of selling off Quebec's natural wealth at cut-rate prices and is calling for a 30 per cent surtax on profits from non-renewable resources.<br><br>The Coalition has also taken aim at the signature plan, alleging windfall will primarily benefit foreign companies and Quebec mining firms cosy with Liberals.
Liberals have long stood as the major federalist option in Quebec. Party is frequently accused by opponents of being subservient to Ottawa. However, it has clashed publicly with federal government over issues like long-gun registry, omnibus crime bill and changes to health transfers.<br><br>PQ is offering no timetable for third referendum on independence. Instead, party plans to pick fights with Ottawa in seeking more power over immigration, environment, agriculture and revenue collection. PQ hopes such battles will generate support for independence. Eventually, Quebecers themselves could initiate referendum, under plan to allow California-style plebiscites. People would need to collect 850,000 signatures to hold provincial vote on a given topic.<br><br>The Coalition, led by former PQ minister Francois Legault, vows to shelve any referendum on independence for 10 years to focus on building economy. But many federalists remain wary of the once-passionate sovereigntist.