July 11, 2012 / 2:49 PM / in 7 years

Quebec may face Sept 4 election, newspaper says

OTTAWA, July 11 (Reuters) - Quebec Premier Jean Charest wants an election on Sept. 4, even though polls show his ruling Liberals could lose to separatists who seek independence for the Canadian province, a newspaper said on Wednesday.

Montreal’s La Presse, citing what it said were several Liberal insiders, said Charest strongly favored calling the campaign on August 1. Charest’s chief spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Charest, who took over as premier in 2003, has become increasingly unpopular over the last two years amid public unhappiness over allegations of corruption in the powerful construction industry. He eventually bowed to calls for an official probe into possible wrongdoing.

This May the government clamped down on student protesters unhappy with proposed tuition hikes, prompting widespread condemnation from trade unions, lawyers and other groups.

A Sept. 4 election would take place before students return to class and before the corruption inquiry restarted its work.

Recent polls show the Liberals neck-and-neck with the separatist Parti Quebecois, which wants the province to break away from the rest of Canada.

Charest won a majority of seats in a December 2008 election and does not have to call an election until the end of 2013.

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