Election night in Quebec is shaping up to be an exciting one with political observers predicting many tight races across the province.
Here are some races that could come down to the wire after the polls close on Tuesday night.
For more than three decades, the Brome-Missisquoi riding in the Eastern Townships has been represented by the Liberal Party's Pierre Paradis. But this time around he's up against nine other candidates and polling during the campaign suggested he has a tough fight ahead on election night.
Liberal candidate Pierre Moreau eked out a win last time by the slimmest of margins in Châteauguay, just 1.5 points ahead of the PQ. Another close race is expected with high expectations for the CAQ, and the PQ hoping to come up the middle if the vote splits.
Québec Solidaire has high hopes that co-spokesperson Françoise David will win the Gouin riding after finishing second in 2008. David had a strong performance in the all-candidates debate, but will that be enough for her to take the riding from the PQ incumbent Nicolas Girard?
Groulx, in the the Rosemère area just north of Laval, is a real three-way race between the Liberals, the PQ and the CAQ. Former Radio-Canada broadcaster Raymond Archambault, who hopes to retain the seat for the PQ, will face stiff competition from the Liberal candidate Linda Lapointe, a former ADQ MNA.
Laval-des-Rapides is a shaping up to be one of the most hotly contested ridings on election night with two star candidates taking on a high-profile incumbent.
Liberal candidate and junior finance minister Alain Paquet narrowly won the riding last time, with the PQ close on his heels.
The PQ is counting on former student leader Léo Bureau-Blouin to turn his popularity among young voters into a seat. The CAQ is putting Maud Cohen on the ballot, hoping her former role as the president of the Quebec Order of Engineers will bring her enough support to win.
Jean-Martin Aussant is counting on his former supporters in Nicolet-Bécancour who took him to PQ victory last time to stay with him now that he's founded a new party, Optional Nationale.
Aussant also made a pact with Québec Solidaire to not run a candidate in Gouin in exchange for the party not running someone against him here to avoid splitting the sovereigntist vote. But that's no guarantee and the Liberals hope to grow their support after a respectable showing last time around.
The stakes are high for Quebec Liberal Leader Jean Charest to retain his seat in Sherbrooke, a seat he has won by a narrow margin in each of the last three elections.
But months filled with protests and civil unrest in addition to corruption allegations against his government have voters mulling over some tough choices. Charest is facing PQ candidate and former Bloc Québécois MP Serge Cardin as a main opponent. Cardin represented the area in Parliament for more than a dozen years before losing his seat in the NDP's Orange Wave.
The CAQ is banking on the chances of its star candidate, Jacques Duschesneau, in St-Jerome to capitalize on the public's frustration over the provincial corruption scandal.
But the Liberals have taken sharp aim at Duschesneau, a former Montreal police chief and corruption fighter, for not naming names after launching a round of fresh allegations at the government over the course of the campaign.
The PQ, which has a long tradition in the area, hope to history will be in their favour.
Since 1998, the riding of Taschereau in central Quebec City has been known as a safe PQ seat. But with new parties and new boundaries, incumbent Agnès Maltais now faces stiff competition in a three- or perhaps four-way race.
The Liberals have positioned cabinet minister Clément Gignac as their candidate, moving from the seat he held in Marguerite-Bourgeoys.
The riding of Trois-Rivières is one to watch, for its political history and the candidates on the ballot. The riding has a track record of electing members of the winning party, with the exception of its 2007 choice of Action Démocratique du Québec — when the party surprised many and formed the official opposition.
This time, the PQ parachuted Djemila Benhabib, an anti-Islamist author and staunch supporter of secularism, into the riding to try to take it from the Liberal incumbent. The CAQ is hoping it can tap into the ADQ past here to win the seat.
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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.