[lg policy] Canada: Pauline Marois slips even faster than the PQ

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Tue Aug 30 15:36:15 UTC 2011

Opinion: Pauline Marois slips even faster than the PQ

By Don Macpherson, Montreal Gazette August 29, 2011

The Nouveau Mouvement pour le Québec is critical of Pauline Marois’s
so-called “sovereignty government,” which calls for the gradual
repatriation of powers from Ottawa should the PQ form the next

MONTREAL - Regardless of what you might have heard or read last week,
slaying the sovereignist dragon and restoring Quebecers’ faith in
Canada are not among the miracles performed by the late Saint Jack.
Polls suggest that, since before the Layton-led breakthrough by the
New Democratic Party in this province in the May 2 federal election,
there has been little or no change in Quebecers’ support for
sovereignty or their feelings of attachment to Canada.

In one post-election poll, conducted by the CROP firm for political
polling expert Claire Durand of the Université de Montréal, 32 per
cent of respondents who said they had voted for the NDP also said they
would vote Yes in a sovereignty referendum.

And while support for the Parti Québécois has plummeted since the
federal election, that’s mainly because of the loss of confidence in
the PQ resulting from its continuing internal crisis.

The fragility and incompetence of Pauline Marois’s leadership were
exposed by her mishandling of the PQ’s controversial Quebec City arena

And in recent days, her leadership has come under attack from within
her caucus of PQ members of the National Assembly as well as from the

In an interview last Friday on Montreal radio station 98,5 fm’s
Dutrizac l’après-midi program, Pierre Curzi, who quit the caucus last
June to sit as an independent, offered to return to the party and take
over as leader if Marois stepped down first.

The former actor tied with François Legault as Quebec’s most popular
provincial politician in a Léger Marketing survey for The Gazette just
after his resignation from the caucus.

Among PQ voters, Curzi, the architect of the party’s new, tougher
language policy, was tops in popularity.

And he is reported to have considered challenging Marois for the
leadership as far back as last October when he was still a member of
the PQ caucus.

But Curzi is 65 years old and prone to errors. Only hours after
offering to take over the PQ, he had to apologize for his latest
gaffe: saying in the same interview that Premier Jean Charest is
surrounded by “Mafia-like interests.”

A potentially more serious threat to Marois’s leadership came from
within her caucus.

Last Thursday, just in time for a meeting of the caucus this week, PQ
MNA Bernard Drainville published a report essentially calling for
Marois to humiliate herself by replacing her strategy on sovereignty
with his.

Drainville, a 48-year-old former television journalist, is one of the
party’s most popular members and has been mentioned as possible
leadership material ever since he left Radio-Canada for the PQ in

His proposal for referendums to be held by “popular initiative” – that
is, say, when 15 per cent of voters sign a register in favour of one –
would take the timing of a referendum on sovereignty out of the hands
of a PQ government.

So it amounts to a rejection of the “sovereignist governance” strategy
that Marois proposed more than a year ago and had included in the
party-policy program adopted at the PQ convention only four months

That strategy calls for a PQ government to hold a referendum only when
the government judges it “appropriate,” after first building support
for sovereignty by provoking crises in Quebec-Canada relations.
Popular initiatives could result in a sovereignty referendum being
held prematurely.

At a PQ policy mini-convention in March 2008, Marois had a workshop
session crush a resolution in favour of popular initiatives, calling
for the party to trust its leadership.

And in an interview with L’Actualité magazine published last week, she
again defended her strategy and said the convention had given her a

But by Monday, Marois appeared to be in full retreat, having
acquiesced to demands by dissidents for an “estates-general” gathering
of sovereignist groups to discuss their movement’s future direction.

“Estates-general” on sovereignty are hardly a priority for the
increasing number of voters who consider the PQ to have become

But the position of the sovereignty movement’s de facto leader has
been so weakened that she now feels she must negotiate her strategy
with extraparliamentary splinter groups.

Try to imagine René Lévesque or Lucien Bouchard doing that.

dmacpherson at montrealgazette.com

Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Opinion+Pauline+Marois+slips+even+faster+than/5325063/story.html#ixzz1WWjCNXH9

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