Dion names senator as Quebec lieutenant; 2 MPs refuse job

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion named a senator as his new Quebec lieutenant Tuesday after two MPs refused to take over the job.

Top staffer also quits after byelection losses

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion named a senator as his new Quebec lieutenant Tuesday after two MPs refused to take over the job.

Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette will take over as Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion's new Quebec lieutenant. ((Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press))

Dion announced Céline Hervieux-Payette would take over from Marcel Proulx, who resigned hours before the Conservatives delivered the throne speech opening the fall session of Parliament.

"I am pleased to announce that Senator Hervieux-Payette has accepted this new role, in which she will contribute directly to strengthening and reinvigorating the Liberal Party of Canada in Quebec," said Dion in a brief statement issued Tuesday evening.

Proulx, theMP for Hull-Aylmer,quit as lieutenantin the fallout from the party's September lossesin three Quebec ridings, including the longtime Liberal bastion of Outremont, the CBC's Susan Bonner reportedTuesday from Ottawa.

Two Montreal MPs, Denis Coderre and Pablo Rodriguez,were offered the job and turned it down, she said.

Adding to the Liberal woes is the resignation of a key paid staffer, Serge Marcil,director-general of the federal party in Quebec.

Marcil, the departing staffer, was appointed less than eight months ago to the twin posts of Quebec director-generaland Quebec campaign director for the next federal election.

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion, left, speaks to reporters after meeting with his Quebec caucus on Sept. 26. Marcel Proulx looks on. ((Graham Hughes/Canadian Press))

Achanging of the guardcould only complicate Dion's day as he facedone of the biggest political choices of his career:whether to support the Conservative government's throne speech, holding his nose on items he opposes,or force a general election with his party in disarray.

The party lost its national director, Jamie Carroll, on Oct. 10.

Before quitting, Carroll accused fellow Liberals of twisting his words and besmirching his reputation in connection to remarks he was said to have made after being urged to put more French-speaking Quebecers on Dion's staff.

Former Liberal leadership candidate Gerard KennedysaidProulx's departure would belargely symbolic, given that he was appointed lieutenant only in May.

"There is no secret that there was unhappiness about how we all—there's no ducking this for anyone — prepared and conducted the Quebec byelections," Kennedy told CBC News Online.

"We didn't think we were ready, but neither did we think we were this unready," he said.

Kennedy, who hopes to win a Toronto seat in the next general election,said the party failed to project a new image of Dion— as theLiberal leader, not as a former Jean Chrétien cabinet minister.

Dion had "suffered immense caricature as unity minister in Quebec" under Chrétien and the Liberal campaign failed to correct that, he said.