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Parti Quebecois plans to hold a new sovereignty referendum as soon as possible

MONTREAL - The Parti Quebecois says it wants to revive the flames of sovereignty between now and the next provincial election - which could be held as late as 2013 - by working toward a more autonomous Quebec.

MONTREAL - The Parti Quebecois says it wants to revive the flames of sovereignty between now and the next provincial election - which could be held as late as 2013 - by working toward a more autonomous Quebec.

Pauline Marois says her party's new four-point plan is a move away from a previous all-or-nothing approach and is more a piecemeal advancement of the sovereignty agenda.

"It shows our resolution to take up the fight and focus on Quebec sovereignty," the PQ leader told reporters Sunday.

The plan includes reining in the federal government's involvement in provincially mandated powers like education and health and having Quebec exercise more fully its authority in terms of culture, the French language and immigration.

In the same vein, Marois declared the party's intent to push for a stronger French Language Charter that would extend its powers to small-and medium-sized businesses in the province.

The charter does not currently apply to companies with under 50 employees.

The PQ will also continue to promote the use of French use among new immigrants in the province.

Marois says she believes these measures are necessary for Quebec's full social, cultural and economic development.

"We will use all of our abilities to advance the interests of Quebec," she said.

The party will also lobby for a single income tax return to be paid to the provincial government. Quebecers currently file income tax returns to both the provincial and federal governments.

Marois did not rule out the possibility of holding individual referendums on each of these measures, but says they're essentially a stepping stone to the party's ultimate goal of a fully sovereign Quebec.

"There are great things we can do right now," Marois said. "And I hope this dynamism will help revive the flame of sovereignty so we can hold a referendum as soon as possible."

She says the party is ready to turn the page on the 1995 referendum while rekindling the enthusiasm for Quebec sovereignty that was seen in the 1970s and early 1990s.

"We'll hold a referendum when we're ready and when we're sure we have the support of the majority of the population," she said.

Marois also slammed Premier Jean Charest's governing Liberals for not doing enough to defend and advance the interests of Quebec.

"Charest could do these things but he doesn't want to," she said.

However, the PQ's new platform is not fixed in stone, as portions may be modified between now and the party's national convention planned for the spring of 2011.

"PQ supporters will be able to debate these measures with their fellow citizens, so they can arrive at the next election campaign with a clear and improved plan," she said.

"We will get ourselves elected on this mandate."

 
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