Quebec premier to stay on, won’t make federal run

* Liberal Premier Charest wants to fight another election

* Charest to stay in Quebec, won’t enter federal scene

OTTAWA, July 10 (BestGrowthStock) – The premier of Quebec said he
planned to stay in office and battle separatists who want
independence for the French-speaking Canadian province, adding
that he would not try to become prime minister of Canada.

Premier Jean Charest, a Liberal struggling to fend off
allegations of scandal, only has a slim majority in the
provincial legislature and his party trails far behind the
separatist Parti Quebecois in opinion polls. The Quebec
Liberals are not aligned with the federal Liberals, the main
opposition party in Ottawa.

Charest complained in April about how difficult it was to
be a politician, raising speculation he might quit early. But
he told Canadian Broadcasting Corp. radio that he had fought
four Quebec elections and wanted to take part in a fifth.

“It’s been four consecutive elections. I think five is a
good number,” he said in an interview broadcast on Saturday.
Charest retained power in a December 2008 vote and in theory
could remain premier for five years before the next ballot.

PQ governments have twice held referendums on breaking away
from Canada, in 1980 and 1995. Both failed.

Although PQ leader Pauline Marois has so far declined to
outline her plans if she were to take power, party members
would expect another referendum in her first term. Any serious
hint that Canada might break up would likely hit both investor
sentiment and the Canadian dollar.

Charest, 52, was once a star in the federal Progressive
Conservatives, one of two movements that merged in 2003 to
create the Conservatives, the party that currently governs in
Ottawa through a minority government. He is sometimes mentioned
as a candidate to eventually replace Prime Minister Stephen
Harper, who took power in early 2006.

When asked whether he planned to run for prime minister,
Charest replied: “No. I’ve been at this for 25 years and I’m
very happy where I am. I have a great job that I enjoy.”

Whether he can stay in his post depends in part on a probe
into allegations by a former Liberal justice minister who said
some donors had influenced the naming of Quebec judges.

Charest set up the inquiry in April but dismissed demands
by Marois for a separate probe into possible corruption in the
powerful construction industry, which is a big contributor to
Liberal coffers.

Charest told the CBC that Marois was “applying a scorched
earth policy” in a bid to hurt the Liberals.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Frank McGurty)

Quebec premier to stay on, won’t make federal run