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Quebec Liberals urge federal counterparts to fix their own problems [CA-QC]

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Perreaux, Les
Publication Date: 
22 Apr 2004

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Federal Liberals should clean up their own scandals before blaming their sagging popularity on their Quebec counterparts, provincial Liberals said Thursday.

As the sponsorship scandal continued to unravel in Ottawa, Liberals in Quebec City brushed aside suggestions that Premier Jean Charest's policies could cause any more damage to the popularity of the federal Liberals.

"It's a joke," said Norman MacMillan, the provincial Liberal caucus leader, who said he was disappointed and angry to hear the suggestion.

"No way. They should look in the mirror and start working on changing Quebecers' minds."

With a federal election looming as early as this spring, the federal party has dropped in popularity in Quebec falling behind the surging rival Bloc Quebecois. The Bloc trailed badly in polls just a few months ago and was thought by some to be near death.

Last weekend David Herle, a senior advisor to Prime Minister Paul Martin and co-chairman of the upcoming election campaign, reportedly blamed federal woes on the Liberal government in Quebec during a training meeting with Ontario candidates.

Steven MacKinnon, the deputy director of the Liberal Party of Canada, said Herle mentioned the woes of the Charest government while discussing several problems the federal party faces in Quebec.

Charest's government in Quebec City has steadily declined in the polls since coming to power a year ago. Day-care fee hikes, controversial plans to revamp the role of government in the province, and laws that will reduce the power of unions have all sparked protest in Quebec.

Some pundits have said Charest is running the most unpopular first-year government in modern Quebec history.

Quebec Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Benoit Pelletier said provincial policies have little or no impact on federal popularity.

Pelletier pointed out that his government is fighting the federal government on many files, mainly in its search for more money from Ottawa.

The provincial Liberal party officially split from its federal counterpart in 1955 to maintain its independence. However, a number of Liberal organizers in Quebec work for both parties. Politicians can also move from one to the other occasionally.

- reprinted from the Canadian Press