Paul St-Pierre Plamondon had a good first week. He presented lucid views on the challenges ahead. He laid the groundwork for reconciliation with a caucus that was initially hostile to him. Despite some fragile positions, he avoided the big traps.
The task which now awaits him nevertheless appears Herculean. I would dare say that his path to success is on an even steeper slope than that which René Lévesque had to face when he founded this new party, the PQ, in 1968.
First, I believe that it is easier to sell the public the image of a new party than to convince people that we have renovated a damaged car. Among young people in 2020, the PQ passes for an old party. We are light years away from the frenzy that once existed for the PQ on campuses.
The PQ under René Lévesque left with not a penny. But the situation is worse today. Paul St-Pierre Plamondon takes the leadership of a party that drags significant debts. One more burden on the way to win back the electorate.
To advance his new party, René Lévesque enjoyed a huge advantage. He could ride the wave of support from social movements, artists and unions. Above all, these people were quite a bit more inclined to speak out publicly about politics than they are today.
Even among journalists, sympathy for the Parti Quebecois was fairly widespread. No one doubts that support for sovereignty was overwhelming among the baby boomer journalists covering politics during the rise of the PQ.
Paul St-Pierre Plamondon does not benefit from any similar wind in the sails, emanating from the company. He can only count on himself to create a favorable wave towards his party. By hand, by oar.
Let us add that without taking anything away from his qualities, the new PQ leader is not René Lévesque. The latter already had quite a background before founding the PQ. He had been the favorite popularizer of TV. He had led the nationalization of electricity as responsible minister. He was known to everyone and enjoyed a solid reputation.
Paul St-Pierre Plamondon remains unknown to much of the population. He has good degrees and an interesting career, but nothing that has not yet marked the general public.
Let’s give him what is his due. He has just achieved a notable political achievement. In a campaign where the first poll gave him 5%, he scored a convincing victory. He has worked hard and performed in financing, recruiting and persuasion. These are the keys to attacking the next step. Above all, he showed courage and talent.
Rebuilding is its key word. A credible independence vision, a robust program, new faces that adhere to and a party image to remake. Big job.