Canadian leaders battle for votes in Quebec

Wed Apr 13, 2011 11:15pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian political leaders battled on prime time television on Wednesday to win the support of voters in Quebec, a pivotal province that could go a long way to deciding who wins the May 2 election.

The ruling Conservatives of Prime Minister Stephen Harper are ahead in the polls but need to make a breakthrough in Quebec to boost their chances of winning a majority of the 308 seats in the House of Commons.

Quebec accounts for 75 seats in the House of Commons and 47 of them are currently in the hands of the separatist Bloc Quebecois, which wants independence for the predominantly French-speaking province.

Harper and the leaders of the two national opposition parties had trouble landing effective blows during the French-language debate, suggesting the race remains close.

Harper said the Bloc -- which only campaigns in Quebec -- could never be a driving force in Ottawa.

"Only Conservative legislators, the Conservative government are delivering the goods for the regions. You need to have your region included in the government," he said.

The Conservatives have 11 of Quebec's 75 seats and polls suggest they will have trouble keeping all of them.

The Bloc's strength is one of the main reasons that no party in Canada, the largest supplier of energy to the United States, can win enough seats to win a majority government.   Continued...

<p>New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton (L) debates with Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe during the French-language leaders' debate in Ottawa April 13, 2011. REUTERS/Sean Kilpatrick/Pool</p>