Alexandre Cloutier confident ahead of PQ leadership vote

Daybreak's Mike Finnerty spoke to Alexandre Cloutier, who was considered the early frontrunner for the Parti Québécois leadership but his hold on the top job may no longer be a sure thing.

Cloutier was considered the early frontrunner, but his hold on the job may no longer be a sure thing

Parti Québécois leadership candidate Alexandre Cloutier speaks during a leadership debate in Montreal, Sunday, September 25, 2016. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

With voting for the Parti Québécois's ninth leader set to begin tomorrow, CBC Montreal's Daybreak is spending the next few days checking in with the four candidates in the running.

On Friday, host Mike Finnerty spoke to Jean-François Lisée. Today, he spoke to Alexandre Cloutier, who was considered the early frontrunner but whose hold on the top job may not be a sure thing anymore.

Mike Finnerty: Why is the race so close?

​Alexandre Cloutier: Good question. We'll have to answer that after the race. Now, what I can tell you is we're very close and we're about to have it.

MF: Could it be the identity politics, things like Jean-Francois Lisée associating you with Adil Charkaoui, bringing up burkas and bombs and AK-47s, is that the kind of thing that's made it so close?

AC: Yes that's part of it. There are a few reasons but it's too soon to analyze.

MF: Do you think it's been a fair contest?

AC: I don't think the comparison to Charkaoui was right and it wasn't accurate, but that's part of the game and I know the rules. It was quite unfortunate but it's passed now and I've turned the page.

MF: When Lisée was on the program Friday, we asked him about systemic racism. Lisée said he thinks systemic racism exists here in Quebec. What do you think?

AC: Yes it does exist, but I'm not sure Lisée had that idea at the beginning of the race. But that's another subject.
I definitely think we have to work harder to make sure we lower the unemployment rate in certain communities and … to make sure we have equality of chances for everyone.
Alexandre Cloutier had the early lead, but Jean-François Lisée has come on strong in the final few weeks of the contest. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

MF: Should there be a commission?

AC: I did approve [the idea of having a commission] right from the start. I definitely think it's a good idea and it's part of the moves we should [make].

MF: What are your views on the anglophone community in Quebec? One idea that has often been put forward by the PQ is the idea to make Bill 101 rules apply to anglophone CEGEPs. What's your view on that?

AC: I do not support that idea. I don't think that's the right decision to make. I think there are other issues more important for now, making sure we have a francophone environment at work and that's something we want to work on. I don't think any candidate wants to bring back the idea to apply Bill 101 to CEGEPs.

MF: No, but Martine Ouellet wants to get rid of English on all commercial signs.

AC: Yes. That's true, but she's the only candidate to bring [up] that idea.

MF: How important is the anglophone community to Quebec?

AC: It's definitely part of the culture and identity of Quebec. I supported the English Montreal School Board in their [fight] to keep school board elections. It's part of our history, it's part of who we are. We just have to make sure everything is well-balanced.