Canada: Quebec Separatist Leader Resigns

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Tue May 8 18:47:01 UTC 2007

May 8, 2007

Quebec Separatist Leader Resigns


QUEBEC, May 8 The leader of the separatist Parti Quebecois, Andre Boisclair,
resigned today, further destabilizing a sovereignty movement that was left
in shambles after a third-place finish in provincial elections in March.
Mr. Boisclair made the announcement at a hastily called news conference in
the National Assembly on the first day of the new government. I would have
loved to be the leader of the party, Mr. Boisclair said. Its not possible
for me. Somebody else will have to do it. The Parti Quebecois was poised to
have a strong showing in the March elections, with some even predicting a
win for the separatists. But instead they had their worst showing in
decades. The federalist Liberal Party were re-elected with a minority
government and the upstart Action Democratique de Quebec party surprised
political observers by finishing second in the vote, gaining support with
a proposal by the partys leader, Mario Dumont, for greater autonomy for
Quebec but within a united Canada.

Polls show strong support for sovereignty among Quebec voters, so the poor
results for Parti Quebecois were seen to reflect the lack of faith in Mr.
Boisclair, 41, to lead the push for a third referendum on independence.
Two previous votes, in 1980 and 1995, failed. When he was elected leader
of the Parti Quebecois in November 2005, Mr.  Boisclair made headlines for
being gay and admitting to using cocaine while serving as a cabinet
minister. His relative youth also marked a stark departure from previous
leaders in the separatist party, most of whom traced their roots to its
founding in the late-1960's. Mr. Boisclair fought back tears at the news
conference announcing his resignation. He said the sovereignty movement
would rebound. I'm deeply convinced that this brave nation will assume its
freedom, he said.

Rumors persist that the leader of the party Bloc Quebecois, which advocates
Quebec sovereignty in federal politics in Ottawa, will quit his post to
become leader of the Parti Quebecois. Political analysts said the party
could not afford a slow rebuilding process following Mr. Boisclairs
resignation, predicting another poor election result would permanently
cripple the party. They are not in a position for a long-term fix, said
Pierre Martin, a political scientist at the Universite de Montreal. They
have to present a strong option in the next election. If they don't, then
they somehow fade into insignificance, maybe forever.


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