Finally, the PQ is united: Everybody wants Boisclair to go

While denying he is being disloyal, Duceppe did not rule out a run for PQ chief's job

PQ - leadership en jeu - la tourmente

Gilles Duceppe's appeal for sovereignty unity on Sunday evening was unnecessary.

Thanks in no small part to the Bloc Quebecois leader himself, the sovereignty movement has rarely been as united as it now is on the subject of Andre Boisclair's leadership of the Parti Quebecois.

It takes two sides to make a split in a movement or a party. And among sovereignists, there is no Boisclair side any more.

Counting the members of Boisclair's inner circle - which has shrunk so much it's actually more like a dot - there aren't a half-dozen sovereignists whose names might be familiar to the general public who have come out in defence of his leadership in recent days. One of them is Jacques Parizeau's wife, Lisette, but if that was intended to be a signal to Parizeau's hard-line followers, it seems to have been missed or ignored.

And since Boisclair publicly lashed out at Duceppe late last week for manoeuvring behind the scenes to replace him, sovereignists have even borrowed a phrase their arch-enemy Jean Charest has long used to sum up Boisclair: "lack of judgment."

They've also been talking about the "pressure" he has been under since the PQ was reduced to third-party status in the March 26 election, which many blame on his leadership. Translation: The brittle Boisclair is finally cracking. When Duceppe spoke of the pressure on Boisclair in the television interviews he did in reply to the PQ leader's attacks, he might as well have pointed his index finger toward his temple and twirled it in a circle.

Mind you, just because Boisclair sounded paranoid on the weekend doesn't mean that people, including Duceppe, aren't really out to get him.

Duceppe's television interviews were interesting above all for what he didn't say.
He ducked the question of whether Boisclair should stay on as PQ leader. He made no Shermanesque statement about neither seeking nor accepting the PQ leadership in the future. And he would not even commit himself, as he did before the 2006 federal election, to leading the Bloc in the next campaign.
In other words, even while denying that he has been disloyal to Boisclair, he let PQ members know he's available as a replacement. Thus, he helped undermine Boisclair's position, just as he had that of Boisclair's predecessor before the party confidence vote two years ago that resulted in Bernard Landry stepping down.

With polls showing that Duceppe was more popular than Landry, the Bloc leader upstaged Landry with a campaign-style speech at the PQ convention on the eve of the confidence vote. Landry fell only a few votes short of the minimum he needed to stay on, and Duceppe made the difference.

But Duceppe's reputation for authoritarian leadership left the PQ caucus cold. And when not a single PQ member of the National Assembly invited him to run for the vacant leadership, he got the message and stayed in the comfort of Ottawa. The PQ, hoping to rejuvenate its image, turned instead to Boisclair, which maybe even he now realizes was a mistake.

The PQ's situation is more desperate now, and the caucus seems more receptive to Duceppe, since some of its members are said to be working actively, with or without his blessing, to dump Boisclair and bring him in.
And while being leader of the dysfunctional PQ is no sinecure, Duceppe might have reached the conclusion that as long as Boisclair has the job, the spillover effect on the Bloc makes its prospects as bleak as those of the PQ itself.

The Quebec Liberals might also have reason to hope for Duceppe to become the latest federal leader to heed the call to come to Quebec for the good of his cause, as Lucien Bouchard and Charest did. For the main threat to the Liberals now comes from Mario Dumont's Action democratique du Quebec. And there might be no other potential PQ leader capable of reviving the party enough that it can continue to split the nationalist vote with the ADQ. The enemy of the Liberals' enemy is their friend.

If he is, then Dumont might miss Boisclair more than the latter's own party will.

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