MONTREAL - Quebec's increasingly crowded political stage got another player on Wednesday with the re-emergence of the provincial Conservative party.
The party, which has been dormant for several years, is urging Premier Jean Charest to call an election.
Interim leader Luc Harvey insists the provincial Tories are offering a clear vision in a province where there are 18 registered parties.
He says the Liberals are withholding the truth from Quebecers and the Parti Quebecois has degenerated into a soap opera with its endless leadership squabbling.
Harvey dismissed the Coalition For Quebec's Future as just another version of the PQ, trying to be something for everyone.
"In politics, you can't be ambidextrous," Harvey said in a telephone interview, adding that Francois Legault's Coalition "is ambidextrous on many, many subjects.
"If you ask me which direction we are going, I will show you the right. If you ask Francois Legault which direction, you risk being lost."
Harvey, a former federal Conservative MP who represented a Quebec City-area riding from 2006 to 2008, is joined in the latest Tory effort by Richard Decarie, a former deputy chief of staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Also on board is Jean-Francois Plante, a former leadership candidate for the Action democratique du Quebec, and Jacques Chaoulli, a doctor who has pushed for increased private health care.
Harvey said the party also has support from the business community.
Harvey says the Quebec Conservatives support the tough-on-crime stance of their federal counterparts and the streamlining of the province's bureaucracy.
"We are not supposed to work for the government, the government is supposed to work for us. We've forgotten that."
The Conservative party, which is unabashedly federalist, also supports the idea of a flat tax to ease the fiscal burden on Quebecers.
"We will keep it simple — really, really simple."
Harvey said the party didn't wait for Harper's approval to go ahead although their federal cousins were tipped off about Wednesday's announcement.
He acknowledged a successful political party needs money and members to get ahead.
"We start today," he said, explaining the party will have a convention in about six weeks where members will decide if they want to confirm him as leader or have a leadership convention.
Harvey acknowledged the Conservatives have their work cut out for them, especially considering their federal counterparts have only been able to elect a handful of MPs from the province in recent years.
The last time a Conservative sat in the provincial legislature was in 1935.
"We have a communication job to do," Harvey said, noting his party will be able to present a right-wing platform addressed to Quebec while Harper had to appeal to 10 provinces.
Harvey said the party would make announcements in the next few months on the environment and health.
"We will come with something clear," he said. "They will know why they are voting for us."
Plante also said the time is right for the party.
"It is urgent to call a general election in Quebec and organize the forces of the right in Quebec," he said.
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