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A look at the four candidates vying for Parti Quebecois leadership

Parti Quebecois leadership candidates Paul St-Pierre-Plamondon, from the left, Jean-Francois Lisee, Alexandre Cloutier and Martine Ouellet join hands at the end of the last debate before the leadership, Monday, October 3, 2016 in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
October 04, 2016 - 1:56 PM

MONTREAL - On Wednesday, Parti Quebecois members begin three days of voting for a new leader, with Pierre Karl Peladeau's successor announced Friday night. A look at the four candidates:

Alexandre Cloutier, 39

— Lawyer and member of Quebec bar; has master's degree in public international law from University of Cambridge; member of legislature since 2007; cabinet minister 2012-14, including spell as Canadian intergovernmental affairs minister.

— Seen as moderate nationalist and widely regarded as leadership front-runner despite polls indicating his lead is shrinking.

— Refuses to commit to holding sovereignty referendum during first PQ mandate; campaign has focused on increasing investments in education and tightening Quebec's language regulations.

— Expected to attract younger voters to the party and has collected more support from current PQ members of the legislature than anyone else.

— Has come out against TransCanada's Energy East pipeline; pledges to construct electric train between Montreal and Quebec City; wants Quebec to create its own version of the electric car.

———

Jean-Francois Lisee, 58

— Has law degree and master's in communications from Universite du Quebec a Montreal; member of legislature since 2012; international relations minister, 2012-14; adviser to Quebec premiers Jacques Parizeau and Lucien Bouchard, 1994-99.

— Has promised to not hold sovereignty referendum in first PQ mandate, but says he would like to have one in 2022.

— Campaign has focused on immigration and identity issues, drawing ire of opponents and younger voters who see him playing on fears and divisions in society; has argued immigration has not been of great benefit to Quebec and that the province needs to reduce number of immigrants it accepts in order to better integrate them.

— Says Quebec needs a "discussion" on banning Islamic burqa; triggered criticism for suggesting controversial Quebec Islamic activist supported Cloutier. Cloutier said he received death threats as a result.

— Opposes Energy East.

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Martine Ouellet, 47

— Engineer who holds master's degree in business administration from HEC Montreal; worked in several positions at province's hydro utility; member of legislature since 2010; natural resources minister, 2012-14.

— Promising sovereignty referendum in first mandate; campaign tied primarily to Quebec separating from Canada.

— Received criticism from party for calling opponents "provincialist" — a somewhat derogatory term indicating other candidates are happy running a province as opposed to a country.

— Wants to force Canada's telecom companies to lower Internet rates and suggested her government would nationalize the firms' infrastructure if they don't heed her demands.

— Wants to make education free from elementary school to university and says she will increase taxes on banks and dormant capital in order to pay for it.

—— —

Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, 39

— Lawyer who holds master's in business administration from University of Oxford; never elected to office but has indicated he would like to become member of legislature.

— Running a distant fourth in the polls, St-Pierre Plamondon has raised profile in the province and among PQ party members; has had least amount of media attention or controversy.

— Has largely stayed away from the kind of personal attacks opponents have been levelling against one another.

— His slogan refers to giving PQ back to all Quebecers; says Quebec identity should be "contagious and inviting" and that party should be at forefront in welcoming immigrants.

— Believes PQ should not hold any referendum in first mandate and says he would modify party's charter to state future sovereignty vote would be launched at behest of the population and not the government. Wants mixed-proportional voting system.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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