Whether its problem is that it's trailing in the polls or in political hot water or, as now, in shambles after dropping to third place in the March 26 election, the Parti Quebecois sticks with a single solution: sacking its leader.
Andre Boisclair had the good sense to leave before he was ejected although, really, it was a close call which would happen first, his resignation or firing.
But Boisclair knew his time was up, barely 18 months after he was elected leader on Nov. 15, 2005. He had taken his party down 20 percentage points in the polls to a third-place finish, behind a government with which voters were furious, and, in the case of Action Democratique du Quebec's Mario Dumont, against a leader of an almost non existent party.
One could admire the simplicity of the PQ's standard solution if it led somewhere constructive. But it doesn't. Changing the messenger - when it's the message people aren't buying - isn't going to accomplish anything. The PQ is nothing if not stubborn on this score, however.
Given the choice between re-examining its raison d'etre - sovereignty - or jettisoning the long lineup of leaders who have failed to deliver independence, the PQ's preference is to change their chief. Even the sainted Rene Levesque and the messianic Lucien Bouchard were sacrificed on the altar of wounded party pride.
Even though the painful truth of the matter is that in a fair vote, sovereignty or separatism or secession or whatever you want to call it is unpalatable in Quebec. By and large, the PQ succeeds only when it sells itself as the party of good government and slaps so many coats of paint on the main platform in its program that it's unrecognizable.
The task of persuading PQ members that its 30-year-long dream of creating an independent Quebec is unlikely ever to be realized is one that should be carried out with sensitivity, over time. A new platform should be the fruit of mature reflection.
There is just about zero chance of that happening. With Premier Jean Charest's minority government tenuously holding onto power, an election could be called at any time. The PQ has no time to do anything but grab the first likely leader, which at this point is Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe.
The Bloc has stalled in Ottawa, its long-term purpose no longer clear. Duceppe, who turned down the opportunity to lead the PQ two years ago, knows that if he doesn't accept a second invitation from the PQ, there won't be a third one. He's probably already packed.
Boisclair out; Duceppe in. That's the temptation facing the PQ: Change the leader and move on. That would be a mistake of possibly catastrophic proportions.
Most Quebecers don't want to separate. That's why the PQ is in third place.
Who will put the dream of an independent Quebec formally to rest? Not the PQ. It's so much easier to keep changing leaders, blaming each in turn as he fails to deliver the prize.
It's not the singer the PQ has to change; it's the song.