Did you hear the one about the Quebec separatists who booed the only leader who ever got them close to true victory? Well, actually, there is no punchline, because it is not a joke — it happened to Lucien Bouchard when his photo was shown at a major Parti Québécois meeting in 2005. When Mr. Bouchard told Le Devoir on the front page Monday’s edition that the PQ is “a funny party,” he was not saluting its cutting wit. He meant that the party he led from 1996 to 2001 is downright strange. Those boos happened as the PQ was electing André Boisclair leader in Quebec City. (Mr. Boisclair lasted 18 months, one election and stands a decent chance of himself being booed at some future PQ gathering.) While waiting for the 2005 result to be announced, the party celebrated its history with images of its leaders from René Lévesque on. A significant rump of the party had long faulted Mr. Bouchard for failing to push forward with a third referendum after narrowly losing the 1995 vote. The resulting boos “were the thing that hurt me the most,” Mr. Bouchard, 74, told Le Devoir. The party itself is a great party with selfless, idealistic members. But what is bad is that it turns against its leaders, that it seeks scapegoats “I regret that. I will never accept it for the rest of my life. I absolutely do not understand how people could have the front to boo me. They can boo me when they get 49.5% or a little more than me in a referendum.” It is “a funny party that contains people like that within it,” he continued. “The party itself is a great party with selfless, idealistic members. But what is bad is that it turns against its leaders, that it seeks scapegoats.” In addition to his psycho-analysis, Mr. Bouchard offered his diagnosis of what has held the party back in its quest for sovereignty: it remains too wedded to leftist politics. “Here in Quebec we have sometimes wanted to achieve sovereignty from the left. We took the road on the left, but it did not lead to sovereignty. It led to failure,” he said. “It is the broader boulevard that will get us to sovereignty. This is done for a people. Everyone must feel that they will benefit from the great adventure.” Former Quebec premier Lucien Bouchard speaking on behalf of the Quebec Oil and Gas Association on Monday, March 14, 2011. *** After leaving politics in 2001, Mr. Bouchard initially kept a low profile and, unlike other former PQ leaders, resisted commenting on the Quebec political scene. More recently, however, he has had a harder time biting his tongue. In 2010, he said he did not expect to see a winning referendum in his lifetime and he criticized the PQ for its suspicion of immigrants. Last year he published a short book in which he lamented the fading of the sovereigntist dream. Those comments, along with his role until this year as head of an industry association pushing for oil and gas development, were not going to win over the boobirds. But the PQ can still be counted on to invoke Mr. Bouchard when it suits its purposes. Last week, Mr. Bouchard gave an interview to Radio-Canada discussing a new book that alleges the former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Bora Laskin, revealed confidential information about court deliberations to government officials in the run-up to the 1982 patriation of the Constitution. Mr. Bouchard said the book raises “extremely troubling questions” about the independence of the judiciary, and he called on Ottawa to open its archives to permit a fuller understanding. Alexandre Cloutier, Quebec’s Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, wasted no time celebrating Mr. Bouchard’s comments on Twitter; then, speaking to Le Devoir on Sunday, he hailed Mr. Bouchard as “a man of principle.” That, however, was before Mr. Bouchard’s comments trashing his former party were published Monday. No cabinet ministers are highlighting the latest story, and the praise of Mr. Bouchard’s high principles has ceased. Funny that.