Veteran Marois will give newcomer Duceppe a run for his money

It is pretty clear that not many PQ MNAs would be at ease with Bloc leader as boss

PQ - succession de Boisclair

At the risk of their own chances for re-election, the Bloc Quebecois members of Parliament have generously donated Gilles Duceppe to The Cause, to save the Parti Quebecois, as one of them put it, by "kicking behinds" in the PQ.
Preferring not to have Duceppe bend it like Beckham with their booties, most of the PQ members of the National Assembly declined the offer, saying Groucho the Marxist was too valuable right where he was in Ottawa, leading the sovereignist B team.
Gee, are you starting to get the impression that not many people wanted the Left-Footed Boot for a boss?
Fortunately for the PQ MNAs, they now can turn to a mother figure in Pauline Marois to save them from their party's would-be saviour.
As recently as Tuesday, when the 18-month leadership of Boisclair the Brief came to an abrupt end, Marois appeared to have little interest in seeking a leadership she had already been denied twice. She would not again play Charlie Brown to the PQ's Lucy as it held the football for her to kick, only to snatch it away at the last second, causing her to fall flat.
Her defeat in the last leadership election had been especially bitter. She was the strongest candidate overall, having served in PQ governments in every major cabinet portfolio except justice, for which she was not eligible because she is not a lawyer.
But experience that should have been her biggest asset turned out to be a liability instead. Preferring novelty and youth, party members chose Boisclair instead, and Marois soon quit active politics. She was then 56, and her political career seemed to be over.
Then on Wednesday, the day after Boisclair's resignation, poll results were published that surprised everybody by ranking her ahead of Duceppe in popularity among voters in general and PQ supporters in particular. And resistance to Duceppe began to emerge from the PQ caucus. Suddenly, another Marois candidacy began to seem viable.
Duceppe figured he could still prevail, even with most of the MNAs against him, by going over their heads to win over the rank-and-file membership who will elect the leader. But he didn't want to face strong opposition, and figured Marois wouldn't either. So he tried to discourage her from running by hastily announcing his candidacy yesterday. But Marois called his bluff.
The PQ now might feel that it owes Marois, since everybody now recognizes that it made a mistake in preferring Boisclair to her. And as a would-be future premier, she is far more qualified than Duceppe, who is new to provincial politics.
But the PQ is a lot farther from power now than it was the last time she ran for the leadership, when it appeared to be a government in waiting soon to be returned to power. What it will be looking for now is a leader who can restore it to being even a contender for power.
Marois knows the PQ more intimately than Duceppe, an outsider joining a party wary of newcomers. And she will have more support among the 36 MNAs (expected to be 35 soon, once Boisclair resigns his seat).
She might also have an advantage if the campaign rules make it hard for Duceppe to recruit Bloc members, not all of whom already belong to the PQ, to vote on the leadership. There's a widespread opinion in the PQ that the last campaign was too much of an organizational contest to sign up new members, which Boisclair won. (And nobody wants another series of debates between a couple of Snow Whites and the seven dwarfs, so the rules will prevent nuisance candidacies.)
Party members might also be inspired by the strong showing of socialist candidate Segolene Royal in the recent French presidential election. Marois is again trying to make history as the first woman to lead a major party in Quebec.
In this country, political parties are boys' clubs that push the girls to the forefront only in desperation, as a last resort, in the traditional female role of cleaning up a hopeless mess left by the boys. Think of Kim Campbell, think of the female ministers given parity in the Charest minority cabinet. Marois would be qualified for leadership even if the PQ weren't that desperate.

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