We would be remiss if we here at Deux Maudits Anglais didn’t diligently report on the traveling gong show that is Parti Québécois. Doing so is usually like shooting large, pissy, self-righteous fish who don’t really get along in a barrel; write an appropriately cynical blog entry, slap on a snide headline (see above) and a picture of PQ leader Pauline Marois looking haughty and/or flummoxed and voila! Blog entry! Easy as quiche.
This time, though? Not so much. Over the weekend Marois took a few remarkable steps to consolidate her power over her party–no small feat–that have will dramatically increase the PQ’s electability in the coming years. More after the break.
The PQ held its annual convention last weekend. These things are usually reserved for mind-numbing policy reviews, a speech or seven about sovereignty, glad handing and plenty of blue and white flags. With one swish of her hand, though, Marois eliminated SPQ-Libre, the lone so-called “political party” that, despite its diminutive size, holds a fair bit of sway in the party. Ardently leftist, referendum-or-die and remarkably humourless, the SPQ-Libre considered itself the PQ’s conscience and respite for the pur-et-dur types. As such, it regularly shot off its mouth whenever it thought the leader had stepped out of line. It was SPQ leader Marc Laviolette who came out against André Boisclair when the latter dared speak out against the unions a few years ago, and has tut-tutted the party at regular intervals since being granted its status in 2005.
Marois managed to get the part onside in 2007, but it was only a matter of time before it spoke up again–particularly since Marois has recently taken on the big-government, big-labour tenets of the party as of late (more on this in a second.) So Marois straight up did away with it, leaving Laviolette et al. to mutter limply about how the PQ is going to hell (or at least to the right.) Laviolette has been saying as much for nearly five years; this marked the first time, though, that there was absolutely no political fallout for the party as a result.
Laviolette’s right, of course. The PQ is veering right, and for good reason. Ever since the implosion of the ADQ, there is a huge, orphaned vote share drifting around the province. By first putting the idea of a referendum on ice, then going after the identity crowd, then turfing the pesky leftist cabal within the party, Marois is appealing directly to the erstwhile ADQ voter in the suburbs and régions off the island of Montreal.
The other part of her strategy, to be remorseless and nasty in her attacks against Jean Charest, appear to be working as well: according to a recent poll in Le Devoir, Charest’s popularity is at its lowest point in seven years. This in itself isn’t news: the Liberal government’s popularity seems to change as regularly as the tides. What is new, though is how Marois has personally benefitted from Charest’s latest demise. For the first time, Quebecers believe she would make a better Premier.