PQ hard-liners are already grumbling about Boisclair

New, youthful leader is catching flak only four months after winning job

2006 textes seuls


In recent years, both the federal Liberal Party and the Parti Quebecois have taken the unusual step of dumping leaders even though they had their parties ahead in the polls.
We know how that worked out for the Liberals (four words: opposition leader Bill Graham). But how about the PQ?
Well, here's a "progress" report on how Andre Boisclair is doing as leader of the PQ.
In polls by the CROP firm for La Presse, support for the PQ and its leader is down across the board since last June, when Bernard Landry took the hint from a confidence vote at the PQ convention and stepped down as leader.
In its most recent poll for La Presse, conducted March 16-26, CROP's projection of the PQ vote share was down seven percentage points from its last poll before the PQ convention. So was its projection of the Yes vote to the 1995 referendum question.
Boisclair's satisfaction rating was 11 points below Landry's, and the proportion of Quebecers who thought Boisclair was the most able leader was six points lower.
Worse, the trend is downward, as minor left-wing parties draw small but increasing amounts of support away from the PQ.
For this the PQ showed Landry the door?
The change in leadership has left the PQ worse off in every respect but one. The only bright spot is that the party has gained 80,000 members in good standing who took out or renewed their memberships to vote for his successor. It remains to be seen how many will renew their memberships after one year.
But even with the $400,000 in additional membership dues it collected from them, the party is even deeper in debt because of the expense of the leadership campaign. There's also the $120,000 a year in salary the PQ is paying Boisclair because, unlike Landry, he isn't a member of the National Assembly.
The lack of money shows. The party's communications director is doing double duty as Boisclair's personal press secretary, and the PQ recently cut back the frequency of its email newsletter to biweekly from weekly.
And Boisclair recently announced he'll seek a seat in the Assembly (and the opposition leader's salary) in the fall.
Less than four months after he was elected leader by PQ members, Boisclair's honeymoon is already over.
Yesterday morning, introducing a report on campaigning for next Monday's by-election in the PQ stronghold of Sainte-Marie-Saint-Jacques, a Radio-Canada television news reader described the vote as "a test of Andre Boisclair's leadership." What, already?
Actually, yes, considering this is a party that replaced its last leader largely for lack of anything else to keep itself amused between referendums. Landry's greatest failing was that he couldn't come up with a way to hold one while he was in the opposition.
And having chewed up and spat out Landry after barely four years as leader, it's not too soon for the PQ to have started nipping at Boisclair.
Although the PQ is still ahead in the polls, the public criticism of Boisclair from within sovereignist ranks has already started, for lacking substance and placing too much emphasis on youth instead of experience in choosing PQ candidates.
Boisclair acts like "a leader under surveillance by his own party," as Action democratique leader Mario Dumont has observed. Recently, when a former PQ minister said the party's radical program on sovereignty contains "obstacles" to its election, Boisclair immediately shut off any possible debate.
But wait until the hard-liners realize the party is behind schedule for preparations to run in the next election on a platform based on sovereignty, including a provisional constitution for a sovereign Quebec.
Instead of the steady, calming hand needed by an always nervous party, Boisclair is instead showing increasing brittleness, often whining about the press coverage he gets.
His mood won't improve after next Monday's by-election if the story is a strong showing by the new left-wing Quebec Solidaire party, even if the PQ wins as expected. And neither will the mood of his party.
dmacpher@thegazette.canwest.com


Laissez un commentaire



Aucun commentaire trouvé