New Quebec party vows end to sovereignty debate
A former Quebec separatist minister on Monday galvanized public support around a new party by vowing to end 40 years of thorny debate on whether the French-speaking province should split from Canada.
"We want change," Francois Legault, the co-founder of Air Transat and once a minister in the independence-minded Parti Quebecois, said as he unveiled his new Coalition for the Future of Quebec (Coalition Avenir Quebec) party.
"Today, the coalition becomes a political party. It will allow our nation to attain new heights. After 40 years it's time for a new era," Legault told a press conference.
"I'm not coming back (to politics) to sign the constitution," he added. "I'm not coming back to promote the sovereignty of Quebec."
The political discourse in Quebec should focus on the state of the economy, the education system and government inefficiencies, he said.
Quebec twice voted in referendums on splitting from the rest of Canada in 1980 and 1995. The last vote was narrowly won by federalists.
Even before its official launch, the Coalition Avenir Quebec soared ahead of the federalist Liberals in power since 2003 and the opposition Parti Quebecois in public opinion.
The emergence of Legault's new party comes at a time when support for Quebec independence is at its lowest, the Parti Quebecois is facing a leadership crisis and the Liberals are dogged by a corruption scandal.
Legault pledged to bring those on both sides of the separatism debate together under one banner. Elections are due in the province by 2013.
© 2011 AFP