May 17, 2004) OTTAWA
- With the latest polls showing the Liberal party trailing the Bloc Quebecois by as much as 15 per cent in Quebec, Prime Minister Paul Martin today told Quebecers that his agenda needs the support of Quebec.
"To accomplish everything I want to accomplish as prime minister, I need Quebec," the PM said in an address to the Laval Chamber of Commerce.
"I need Quebec and Quebeckers more than ever: to walk alongside me on this exciting journey as we build the Canada of tomorrow.
"Quebec's involvement in this great project that is Canada has nothing to do with partisan bickering and everything to do with the desire to build, together, a country that is a model for the rest of the world. I need Quebec," he added.
The PM's speech was short on specifics about what Quebec's role is in Canada.
Rather, Martin offered something that was part his overall policy agenda and part veiled attack on the Liberals' main opposition in the province, the Bloc Quebecois.
Without ever mentioning the word Bloc, Martin warned those in attendance that a vote for the Bloc would "isolate" Quebecers "in eternal opposition."
"The choices are clear: either we're content to simply observe, and criticize, or we play a direct role in developing policies and putting in place solutions. What we need is a team of MPs from Quebec who want to participate in managing the affairs of this country, from coast to coast to coast."
Martin's comments come after the Bloc unveiled its election platform over the weekend.
While the party cannot mathematically form a government, its platform layouts out a plan on fighting a list of social reforms and tax relief
while in opposition, including ending the fuel surtax, elimination of the GST on books and increases in provincial transfer payments and social housing spending.
The Bloc hopes to ride a wave of still lingering public anger in Quebec over the sponsorship scandal into electoral success that would see it increase its current 33 seat share of
province's 75 seats.
The Bloc is also running under the slogan A Party Unique to Quebec, which in French - Un parti propre au Quebec -- has a double meaning suggesting the party is clean and
thus not scandal-tainted.
Martin is expected to call a federal election this weekend for June 28.
The latest Ipsos-Reid poll puts the Bloc at a very high 46 per cent support in Quebec, compared to 31 per cent for the governing Liberals.
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