From the outside, the Coalition Avenir Quebec MNA Jacques Duchesneau's attack on former Parti Québécois leader André Boisclair seems designed to help hold on to his party's voters.
The CAQ is worried about the allure the PQ's charter of Quebec values has among its rural francophone voters and it wants to make the PQ thinks twice about calling a fall election.
Meanwhile, the PQ is itching for a vote on Dec. 9.
- Couillard interviewed by anti-corruption investigators
- Quebec Liberal headquarters raided by anti-corruption unit
- CAQ wants Boisclair recalled from New York post
They see the Liberals reeling from news that police raided party headquarters last July, the anti-corruption squad questioning party leader Philippe Couillard and this week's interrogation of the director general of the party.
Those events remind voters of the whiff of corruption that plagued the last years of the Charest régime.
But the CAQ has lost a lot of support since the 2012 election. The final piece in the election puzzle for the PQ is that polls indicate solid support for the charter in Quebec's rural areas.
That's where the CAQ holds most of its 19 ridings.
The PQ needs to pick up eight of those seats to win a majority.
In 2007, the PQ finished in third place behind the Liberals and the Action démocratique du Québec. The ADQ turned reasonable accommodation and identity issues into a winning election strategy.
André Boisclair was leader of the PQ at the time. Many traditional PQ supporters did not want to vote for a minister who had admitted to using cocaine while he was a sitting minister.
Duchesneau is the former Montreal police chief whose investigation into collusion in the construction industry forced the Charest government to create the Charbonneau commission on corruption.
Wednesday, Duchesneau called on Premier Pauline Marois to recall Boisclair from his post as Quebec's Delegate General to New York.
It was revealed this week that just four days before the 2003 election, Boisclair authorized a $2.5 million subsidy which went to his good friend, contractor Paul Sauvé.
Duchesneau says the move is unprecedented, especially considering the PQ knew it was about to lose that election.
But later Duchesneau went further, asking if Boisclair might have been forced into providing the subsidy.
His argument is that Boisclair has admitted to using cocaine while he was a sitting minister in government. His friend Sauvé has links to the Hells Angels. The bikers are cocaine suppliers. It's a tenuous link and even more so because Sauvé's relationship with the Hells Angels began in 2006, three years after the controversial subsidy.
PQ ministers are calling on Duchesneau to retract, and Boisclair issued a statement strongly denying the allegations and threatening to sue for defamation.
But Boisclair may not want the case to ever go to court. If it did, he would be required to testify.
Duchesneau's lawyers would ask him when he used cocaine, how often he used, who was his supplier, when did he stop, was he ever forced to do things he didn't want to do and so on.
On Thursday, CAQ MNAs didn't back away from Duchesneau's insinuations. Instead, they kept referring to the cocaine use.
The CAQ says its attack on Boisclair is to focus attention on possible wrongdoing by a PQ minister days before a provincial election — but it also conveniently reminds its grassroots supporters of their general dislike of the PQ.