Former PQ president Jonathan Valois recently had a pretty epic rant agains the four PQ MPs who left the party in a huff this week. (Maclean’s take on the whole affair is here.) Anyway, Valois is hellishly eloquent—especially, it seems, when he gets that whiff of self-righteousness in his nostrils. Noting how Marois had cleaned up the party’s finances, brought the party back into Official Opposition in 2008 and scored a 93 per cent leadership approval rating just last April, Valois went off on Curzi, Beaudoin, Lapointe and Aussant. “It’s like certain people said, ‘Thanks for the cleanup, Ms. Marois, but you aren’t the woman for the situation now.’ They’ve treated her like a cleaning lady. […] Now, after all this unity we are breaking apart because their egos were more important than the party itself.”
It’s great listening, in large part because Valois has a point. The four who left the party did so ostensibly over Bill 204—the bill sponsored by PQ MNA Agnès Maltais that would effectively shield the City of Quebec from lawsuits over its hockey arena deal with Quebecor. But from three of the four of those who bolted—Beaudoin excepted—there was another expressed reason: Marois wasn’t doing enough for the cause of sovereignty. “I leave also because I have the sad impression that [the PQ] is moving away from sovereignty and even the power that seemed so close,” said MNA Lisette Lapointe. Jean-Martin Aussant was even more direct: “I don’t think Ms. Marois is the woman that people want to follow as we build a country,” he said, before inviting her to step down.
It’s an old PQ trick: denounce the leader for his or her lack of sovereignist sang froid. Except this time it seems particularly egregious, because since she became PQ leader Ms. Marois has done little but talk about sovereignty. Whether it was her goal to institute a series of mini-referendums to chisel away powers from Ottawa—in order to “provoke a crisis,” as Jacques Parizeau happily noted—or the (somewhat bizarre, but whatever) “ABCD de la souveraineté” cross-province speaking and activity tour in 2009, the word ‘sovereignty’ has never been far from her lips for the last three years. “We want to offer our children a free country, a sovereignist country!” she said in her opening speech in April—in which she invoked ‘sovereignty’ nine times in 15 minutes. The next night she gave a closing speech in the same vein: “We are sovereignists and as a result, we propose to Quebecers to get rid of the biggest waste of all: Ottawa bureaucracy!”
And so forth.
Marois’ critics would say she is but paying lip service to something she knows she’ll never achieve. Perhaps. But here’s the thing: the PQ is in opposition. She hasn’t even had a chance to screw up yet. What the hell else besides formulating strategy, working to defeat Charest and talking the issue to death is Marois supposed to do?
Poet Claude Péloquin had a great line that translates (badly) to “Aren’t you tired dying, you bunch of morons?”
So, I put the question to the four PQ deserters: Vous êtes pas tannés de mourir, bande de caves?