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Jean Charest rules out snap Quebec election

Premier Jean Charest speaks in Levis, Que., on May 9, 2011.

Jacques Boissinot/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Quebec Premier Jean Charest is ruling out a snap provincial election this fall.

Speculation has been rife he might be tempted to capitalize on current bickering within his rival Pauline Marois's Parti Québécois to go to the polls in autumn.

But Mr. Charest dismissed that possibility on Wednesday and said he wants to concentrate on economic development and new business markets for Quebec.

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"The election is not for the fall," the Premier said in Tokyo as he began a trade mission to Japan and China.

"I've heard Mme. Marois talk about a fall election – and we're not even three years into our mandate."

Mr. Charest's current majority government was elected in December 2008.

He has been premier since 2003 and says he will definitely be going for a fourth consecutive mandate at some point.

In Montreal, Ms. Marois was taking Mr. Charest's election comments with a large dose of skepticism.

"I always take that [kind of talk]with certain reservations," she said. "He said exactly the same thing in 2008. And six weeks later, we were in an election campaign."

The PQ has been beset by internal wrangling in recent months, with some high-profile members of the legislature quitting over Ms. Marois's leadership style.

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The party, which was far ahead of the Liberals in public support a few months ago, has plunged as of late.

It is also facing pressure from a newly created sovereigntist movement, which is not yet a political party.

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