The referendum campaign got off to a bumpy start for the separatists, who have been battered by disappointing poll results and a judge ruling that the PQ’s bid to secede is unconstitutional.

In a poll done Sept. 8-12 for La Presse and Radio-Quebec, 54 per cent of Quebecers said they would vote against the government’s referendum question. Forty-six would have voted ‘yes.’ A Quebec Superior Court judge, Robert Lesage, cast further doubt on the separatist scheme by calling on the PQ not to proceed with its unilateral declaration of sovereignty.

Lesage ruled that the Quebec government’s “ability and power to declare Quebec sovereignty without following the amendment procedures recognized in the Constitution of Canada constitutes a serious threat to the rights and freedoms of the claimant as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.” But Lesage refused to grant an injunction blocking the referendum.

He was ruling in favour of a court challenge brought by Guy Bertrand, a Quebec City lawyer and founding member of the PQ.