A candidates' panel discussion on CJAD's Tommy Schnurmacher Show Monday morning was dominated by talk of referendums, what might happen after a third independence referendum — and why the party that has been in power for both prior independence referendums talks about having one some times, but not others.
Jean-François Lisée, the minister responsible for the Montreal region, spoke for the Parti Québécois. He reiterated the party's traditional line that the party exists to make Quebec an independent country — but that it won't commit to a timetable for a third referendum.
"If we're elected, we're going to have this discussion," Lisée says, "but if Quebecers are not ready to take this step, there won't be a referendum."
Lisée also took Liberal leader Philippe Couillard to task for his perceived ambiguity about the issue of reopening Canadian constitutional negotiations.
Geoff Kelley, the Liberal MNA for Jacques-Cartier, quoted well-known American political pundit James Carville's line from the 1990s — "It's the economy, stupid."
"We believe the obsession of the next government has to be the economy," Kelley says. "By the government's own admission, we're in dire straits with public finances in this province because people aren't working.
"They've tried to spin it as much as they can, [but between] February 2013 to February 2014, we've lost 48,000 full-time jobs in Quebec, at the same time in Ontario they created 86,000 full-time jobs."
"Contrary to what Geoff has said...On our watch in 2013, for the first time in history, the proportion of people working is greater than that in Ontario," Lisée shot back. "For the first time, we caught up."
Noah Sidel, the CAQ's candidate for N.D.G., says his party has been very clear on what its priorities are.
"The CAQ's position is no referendum. And I think it's interesting to hear the Liberal party speaking of obsession, because the Liberal party and PQ have been obsessed with one debate for 40 years."
He notes Couillard's assertion on Sunday that it's time to stop talking about referendums and talk about the economy is close to the CAQ's position on the issue.