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.
Draft resolution calls on country to abandon plans to force Rohingya Muslims to identify as 'Bengali' - term used to brand them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid Bipu said the government was working to get power running.
Municipalities in Bosnia to donate $25,000 to assist 400 Palestinian families living in darkness after Israeli attacks
Members of the Albu Nimr tribe had held out for weeks under siege by ISIL fighters in Anbar Province to the west of Baghdad, but finally ran low on ammunition, fuel and food.
"Houthi militants bombed the Al-Islah Party HQ in Ibb after clashes with security guards that left four of them dead," the official said
The government is reluctant to release figures on casualties, but more than 4,000 police and soldiers were killed fighting Taliban in 2013 and this year's toll is expected to be higher.
Nusra Front captured several villages in the Jabal al-Zawiya region of Idlib province and it entered the village of Deir Sonbol, the stronghold of the Revolutionaries' Front
The United States is mounting a diplomatic offensive to stop Hungary selling a stake in a Croatian energy firm to Russia
China passed a counter-espionage law on Saturday aimed at tightening state security
Junta leader and PM Prayuth Chan-ocha is a dollar millionaire; while deputy-pm has $42 million in assets
To reach Burqa, one must pass through seven other Palestinian villages and cross under a highway – which Palestinians are barred from using – that leads to the Israeli settlements.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says domestic intelligence is going through reforms following its failures in preventing neo-Nazi murders between 2000 and 2007
Friday's military coup in Burkina Faso is only the latest chapter in a decades-long pattern of coups
Israeli authorities reopened Al-Aqsa on Friday following a day of violent clashes with Palestinian protesters, but barred male worshippers under 50 years old
European Union's new executive body with one commissioner from each of the 28 EU member states officially takes office on Saturday.
China has not started legal proceedings against former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang, the highest-profile figure to be caught in a government crackdown on corruption