POLITICS
03/25/2014 11:06 EDT | Updated 03/26/2014 10:59 EDT

Pauline Marois: 'I Don't Want Any Referendum'

LAVAL, Que. – Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois put the idea of a third referendum on sovereignty on the backburner on Tuesday in an interview with Le Huffington Post Québec.

"I have been very clear about this. I say: I don't want any referendum," she said in an interview in French. "And there won't be one as long as the Quebecois are not ready.

"I don't want to force anyone. It won't happen during the night. We won't do anything in secret. If people don't want us to ask the question, there won't be any (referendum)."

"We have to be respectful of all Quebecois and of their pace," Marois said.

The most recent polls show that 39 per cent would vote for Quebec independence.

"Right now, that's not the main issue. The issue is the choice of government. I want to focus on that. As for the future of Quebec, I've been very clear. There will be a white book (on sovereignty)," she said, adding that this so-called policy statement would give an overview of Quebec's financial and demographic situation and of the relationship between Ottawa and Quebec.

The PQ Leader also excluded the possibility of alliances with the parties Québec Solidaire or the Coalition Avenir Québec, despite unfavourable polls. She remains confident on the outcome of the April 7 ballot. "I want to win and I will win," she said emphatically during the interview.

In a good mood despite a Léger Marketing poll that shows the Liberals ahead with 40 per cent support to 33 per cent for the Parti Québécois, Marois is focused on the economy and job creation, as well as keeping the Quebec Charter of values a fundamental issue.

"Our greatest challenge is that our message goes to the heart of the issues," said Marois. For that, the leaders debate Thursday night on Quebec’s TVA network will be crucial.

Marois is prepared to hit all the right notes Thursday: give a better explanation of her program and challenge Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard.

Loss of control?

Marois refuses to believe that she has lost the election or even control of the campaign agenda. She says Couillard is focusing on the referendum question and that he is lacking substance.

"I've followed my game plan. Mr. Couillard wanted to derail it, but he hasn't succeeded. He's the one playing defence. He refuses to answer questions. I believe we have made things clear," she said.

She says Quebecers "should come to their senses. They have two choices: one of which is a return to the same Liberal Party as before. I've taken a good look, and I don't see that much has changed on that team ... [Couillard] wants Quebec to be in debt, that's his recipe: $11 billion more over the next 10 years."

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Meeting With Pauline Marois

Marois affirms that her party has proven itself since the last election in its fight against corruption and for more stringent ethical conduct of elected officials. She promises to expand these efforts if re-elected, recalling that the Quebec Liberals did everything they could to stall the ethics investigation into corruption in the construction industry.

The message to francophone voters is clear, says Marois: "Choose a government that has proven itself. Do you really want to take a step backward?"

Over the next few days, the PQ leader intends to speak at greater length about her team, French language culture and the Charter, in order to clearly outline the differences of the Parti Québécois platform. The latest poll shows, however, that only 5 per cent are undecided.

The arrival of PKP

She has also refused to believe that the arrival of Pierre Karl Péladeau to the PQ two weeks ago was a miscalculation and has no regrets.

"Pierre Karl Péladeau's arrival is good news for Quebec. I have thought this ever since the beginning. It was serendipitous for a man of his calibre to choose to serve Quebec and to do so within our party," she said. She does not fear that he intends to take her place at the head of the party.

"I like being surrounded by strong people," she said.

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