Quebec election underway; vote on April 7

Quebec Premier Pauline Marois. (JEAN-FRANCOIS DESGAGNES/QMI Agency)

Quebec Premier Pauline Marois. (JEAN-FRANCOIS DESGAGNES/QMI Agency)

Brian Daly, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:24 PM ET

MONTREAL — Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois kicked off a 33-day election campaign Wednesday as she tries to lead separatists to their first majority government in 16 years on April 7.

Marois is banking on a 22-point lead among crucial francophone voters as she seeks to implement stronger language laws and a state secularism charter while holding consultations on separation from Canada.

Marois, 64, will likely focus on secularism rather than sovereignty during the campaign.

She didn't mention separation during a brief campaign kickoff announcement in Quebec City in which she took no questions.

Marois blamed opposition parties for refusing to support a budget tabled late last month.

"Unfortunately, the Liberals and the CAQ have only one goal, and that's to block the government," Marois said in the legislature foyer, flanked by caucus members.

"It's not just the government, it's all of Quebec that the opposition has blocked because of their attitude."

While support for separation is flat, many French Quebecers have responded positively to Marois' proposal to bar public servants from wearing conspicuous religious symbols on the job.

The PQ machine will largely target 80 ridings, mostly outside Montreal, where French voters overwhelmingly form the majority.


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