The new leader of the Parti Québécois, the young lawyer Paul St-Pierre Plamondon (PSPP), will have his work cut out for him. Nor of obstacles in its path.
Leading a party that has been in decline for 20 years is already shaping up to be a complex task. Leading a caucus of barely nine MPs, none of whom supported him during the leadership race, will be just as important.
Except for the parliamentary leader Pascal Bérubé – impeccable in all things, including his unwavering team spirit – the arrival of PSPP indeed gives off an impression of unease around him.
All the more so since these deputies were very hard pressed. We can never say enough about their courage to stay. Despite all the headwinds, they are holding up. Despite the great popularity of the CAQ. Despite all the ex-PQ who, very happy, found refuge in the ranks of the Legault government.
In short, PSPP, the former political orphan converted to the PQ, has not finished trying to solidify its caucus and its base. An otherwise reality conscious base. Either at the PQ, the saviors have been out of stock for a lease.
Without a seat in the National Assembly either, PSPP’s lack of notoriety is another obstacle. In the midst of a pandemic, it is also impossible to visit voters.
In his first press briefings, he nevertheless began to demarcate his own ground in the partisan arena. For a leader whose party is relegated to the rank of third opposition party, it will not be easy.
The one who presented himself as the man wanting to “rebuild” the PQ and the Yes camp directly attacked the Caquist government. He accuses her of “talking” about nationalism a lot without acting on it.
Instead of strengthening French, he even accuses it of contributing to the anglicization of Montreal by funding expansions at Dawson College and McGill University.
Act of faith
The attempt is clear: to try to reoccupy part of the nationalist ground occupied entirely by the CAQ. Its problem is that Quebec being struck again by COVID-19, its strategy takes the air of swordsmanship in the water. With the pandemic far from fading, most other more political issues continue to take the edge.
Even beyond the pandemic, the mere fact of presenting himself, like a handyman beaver, as the “rebuilder” of the Parti Quebecois and the sovereignist project arouses his dose of skepticism.
The only one who, after a long descent into hell of the PQ in the mid-1980s, had succeeded in reviving it was named Jacques Parizeau.
But Mr. Parizeau was a real builder. One of the great artisans of modern Quebec. A brilliant intellectual. A formidable strategist. An experienced politician who, in addition, knew how to swim in the PQ authorities like a fish in water.
In this, any comparison is necessarily thankless. It’s certain. The fact remains that PSPP has a long way to go. Its advantage is that the expectations being low, it could possibly surprise.
Either way, only time will tell if the transplant will work or not.