Alexandre Cloutier launches bid for Parti Québécois leadership

Parti Québécois MNA Alexandre Cloutier formally announced his intention to lead his party this morning, a team of more than 10 people standing behind him.

Cloutier says he'll focus on education, economy and sound arguments favouring sovereignty

Alexandre Cloutier said diversity is key to Quebec’s identity, referring specifically to immigrants, the English community and Aboriginal people during an event to launch his Parti Québécois leadership campaign. (CBC)

Parti Québécois MNA Alexandre Cloutier said diversity is key to Quebec's identity as he announced his intention to be the party's next leader.

Cloutier mentioned immigrants, the English community and the Aboriginal community specifically, saying there is place for everyone in Quebec.

"Diversity enriches us. We're all united toward a common goal," he said.

This is his second attempt to secure the job. Cloutier finished second to Pierre Karl Péladeau, who stepped down last week, at last year's leadership convention.

"I learned a lot, I evolved and it made me into the politician I am today," he said.

Education tops priority list

As expected, Cloutier put education at the top of his list of priorities, saying as PQ education critic, he has an understanding of Quebec's education system and is constantly working to improve it.

He said despite the fact that learning many languages is an asset, learning French is still the best way to promote inclusion and personal growth for all Quebecers.

Cloutier, 38, promised to enshrine secularism in Quebec's constitution and promote French as the language of work, "notably in Montreal."

He also said he is committed to improving the purchasing power of the middle class, prosecuting tax evaders and creating jobs and economic prosperity.

New plan for independence

When it comes to independence, Cloutier said he believes the party has a lot of work to do before it can achieve its goal.

He said the party needs a new plan: one that considers the realities of the 21st century.

"We have to better define our project and concretely show the benefits," he said, adding that the party has to be more clear about how Quebec's independence would affect the lives of ordinary Quebecers.

The supporters

Among the crowd of supporters standing with him during the announcement were eight current PQ MNAs including Agnès Maltais and François Gendron.

Former PQ interim leader and MNA Stéphane Bédard was on hand to introduce Cloutier and to praise his natural leadership skills, adding he represented the "new generation of sovereigntists."

In last year's leadership race, Cloutier had the support of fellow MNA Véronique Hivon after she decided not to run.

This time, his close friend is a rival: Hivon announced she would be vying for the leadership earlier this week.

The next leader will be the PQ's seventh in 10 years, if you include people who took on the job for interim periods.

The party will elect a new leader in the fall.