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Trailing behind, Premier Jean Charest’s Liberals are battling it out with Francois Legault’s Coalition for Quebec’s Future, according to the Leger Marketing survey of nearly 1,900 people from August 29 to 31.

The longtime ruling Liberal had support from 27 percent of those polled, a point behind the coalition, an upstart party that has attracted both disenchanted federalists, who want the French-speaking province to remain part of Canada, and separatists, who want to secede.

Mr. Charest, an ardent federalist in power since 2003, is running for a fourth term. He is only the second premier in Quebec history to win more than two terms.

This year’s vote comes against a backdrop of social unrest in Quebec, where students since February have challenged the government’s plans to hike university fees, resulting in violent street protests and hundreds of arrests.

Labor groups and other opponents of the Liberals have joined forces with the students at times to pile more pressure on Mr. Charest, who is also facing growing corruption allegations.

Mr. Charest said he recognized the province wanted “change” but nevertheless urged any federalist voters seduced by the coalition to return to the Liberal camp to avoid “getting Madame Marois elected.”

Sunday’s figures are practically unchanged from a poll Friday.

If they hold up, Mrs. Marois would become Quebec’s first female premier, but her party would fall just short of the votes needed to earn a majority in the province’s single-round electoral system.


Humpback whales rebounding on coast

RIO DE JANEIRO — An institute that tracks the population of humpback whales that reproduce along Brazil’s coast says the number of the once-threatened mammals has tripled in the past 10 years.

The Humpback Whale Institute says in a news release there are now almost 10,000 humpbacks off the Brazilian coast. In 2002, the institute counted approximately 3,000 whales.

Institute chief Milton Marcondes says the whales’ fat once was used as fuel for public lighting and in construction. Hunting was banned in 1966, when only about 1,000 whales were left.

Marcondes says restoration efforts have helped the species recover in spite of global warming, accidents with boats, and fishing nets.


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