There’s no better time for Quebec premier Jean Charest to call an election

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

Reports out of Quebec indicate that Liberal Premier Jean Charest is ready to go to the polls in early September.

Speculation became rampant, Tuesday, after Liberal stalwart Norman MacMillan held a news conference to announce he was quitting politics after a lengthy career.

MacMillan, who has sat in the legislature since 1989, acknowledged he was going to wait until later in the summer to make the announcement but that his party asked him to bring it forward.

While Charest's polling numbers may suggest otherwise, there's no better time for the three-term Premier to call a provincial election.

Charest needs to build on the momentum he gained during the student protests over tuition hike,s which began last Spring. For a variety of reasons, the vast majority of Quebecers supported the Liberal government's hard-line stance against the students.

Quebec's colleges and universities, however, are scheduled to re-open in mid-August. If students should re-organize and revamp their message, Charest risks public opinion turning the other way.

Charest also needs be weary of the next round of the Charbonneau Commission, which has been set-up to investigate widespread reports of corruption in the province's construction sector. The hearings, set to resume on September 17, will only serve to remind Quebecers of the scandals that undermined the government's popularity in the first place.

Finally, a summer election campaign means many voters won't be paying attention to election issues and, are therefore, less likely vote.

"People will have to focus on politics instead of having that last little stint of fun before the fall start," Leger Marketing vice-president Christian Bourque told CBC News.

That could bode well for the Liberals and their election machine, even though "it's a fairly unpopular government," Bourque said.

"Doing the election while people are not usually focused on politics might be a better timing for the Liberals," he said.

Charest — the almost 30 year veteran of Canadian politics — is no dummy.