World Bulletin / News Desk
Quebec's two main opposition parties said on Thursday they would oppose the separatist Parti Quebecois government's budget, assuring a spring election, and raising the possibility of an eventual third referendum on independence from Canada.
The Parti Quebecois currently heads a minority government, and has a comfortable lead in the polls. It has signaled it might well call an election on its own in the next two weeks, before it is brought down by a vote on its budget. In either case, an election by mid-April is likely.
If Premier Pauline Marois decided not to call an election on her own, her Parti Quebecois would need the support of either the Quebec Liberals or the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ), but both have said they oppose the budget.
"It will be impossible for us to support the budget," Quebec media quoted Liberal leader Philippe Couillard as saying.
CAQ spokesman Jean-Francois Del Torchio said: "We'll be voting against if there is a vote."
However, he added that Marois had pledged not to be defeated in the legislature, suggesting she might call an election.
The Parti Quebecois, which would like to take the mainly French-speaking province out of Canada, won a minority of seats in the 2012 election with just under 32 percent of the vote.
An online panel survey by the polling firm CROP, published on Tuesday by La Presse newspaper, put the Parti Quebecois at 40 percent. The survey had the Quebec Liberals at 34 percent and the Coalition Avenir Quebec at 16 percent.
La Presse columnist Vincent Marissal said that, with 40 percent support, and 47 percent among francophones, the Parti Quebecois had a "passport to a majority" government.
It needs to have a majority of seats in the Quebec National Assembly, the provincial legislature, to call a referendum on independence.
The Parti Quebecois lost similar referendums in 1980 and 1995, the latter by just over one percentage point. It has signaled it would not automatically call a third referendum, but that possibility will always loom in the background.
The Canadian dollar and bonds suffered during the 1980 and 1995 campaigns.
Thursday's budget, which will serve more as a Parti Quebecois platform, projected deficits of C$2.50 billion ($2.27 billion) for 2013-14 and C$1.75 billion for 2014-15, with a balanced budget in 2015-16, unchanged from the projections the government gave in November.
The use of drones comes at a time when a regular publication of a blacklist of companies using slave labour has been halted.
US President tells African leaders to respect presidential term limits, not to jail journalists, and not to restrict opponents
Child says he was given bag containing explosive by stranger who paid him $5 to bring it to crowded market
US ambassador to Ukraine urges Russia to respect Minsk agreement signed in February
UN Security Council ‘undemocratic, unrepresentative, and exactly where it was in 1945,’ South African govt minister says
A three-year-old child from London is one of hundreds of young people who have been tipped as potential future radicals and extremists.
2,000 in left wing of Syriza call for 'big no' to bailout deal
Russian PM hopes Slovenia will participate in Turkish Stream after talks with his Slovenian counterpart
Russian President adviced European states to rely more on themselves than on military blocks or the U.S.
The annual Trafficking in Persons report has upgraded Cuba, Malaysia, and Uzbekistan to a higher tier as worst offenders for failing to suppress human trafficking.
The ECB will need to extend its money-printing as a result of subdued growth in the Euro zone.
An EU official has said that they "barely know how to talk to ordinary people" and have launched video clips on YouTube to counter misconceptions about the Trans Atlantic partner deal.
Hague-based tribunal attributes move to procedural reasons, but Palestinian diplomat suspects pressure from Israel
Restarting would depend on Syria becoming stable, Russian Union of Gas and Oil Industrialists executive director says.
Viktor Orban suggested that ethnic Hungarians living in Romania should be given an authonomy
Majority in favor of cabinet under Prime Minister Omer Kalyoncu