Deltell crowned ADQ leader

Gérard Deltell was crowned the leader of the struggling Action Démocratique party Thursday after its embattled head, Gilles Taillon, resigned abruptly.

Promises to rebuild party

Gérard Deltell was crowned the leader of the struggling Action Démocratique on Thursday after its embattled head, Gilles Taillon, resigned abruptly.

Deltell, the MNA for the riding of Chauveau, said his job is to rebuild the ADQ and to make sure the party reflects the centre-right values of its members.

Pressure mounted on Taillon to resign this month, only weeks after his election as party leader by a razor-thin margin when the party lost two of its six caucus members.

Former leadership challenger Éric Caire and Chutes-de-la-Chaudière MNA Marc Picard announced they were quitting the party, saying they could no longer support Taillon’s leadership.

Deltell, who had remained neutral during the leadership race, quickly emerged as the lone candidate to replace Taillon.

His coronation was confirmed by a meeting of the party’s executive Wednesday night after Taillon handed in his resignation, bowing to internal party pressure to give up the top post.

During a news conference Thursday at the national assembly, Deltell acknowledged the challenge the ADQ faces.

"We won’t hide our heads in the sand — we are facing difficult times," Deltell said. "We need unity and stability."

Asked whether he would contact Caire and Picard to try to bring them back into the caucus, Deltell said that is not his style.

"Obviously the door is open and we hope everyone will come back," Deltell said. "But it is up to us to prove, by restructuring the party, that this party is welcoming to them."

Deltell’s coronation was welcomed by the party's three other MNAs, including Francois Bonnardel, who had served as the party's leader in the legislature.

"I think Mr. Deltell is a very good leader," said Bonnardel. "He is going to be able to prepare a new beginning for our party."

Tough times for ADQ

The leadership quarrel is only the latest challenge faced by the party. Longtime leader Mario Dumont announced his resignation in December following crushing election results that saw the ADQ drop from official opposition status with 41 seats — to only seven seats in the legislature.

Asked whether he felt the party had a realistic chance of winning the next election, Deltell said it is too soon to declare the ADQ dead.

"Just watch us," he said.

Deltell, a veteran television reporter, was elected to the national assembly in December's general election.

In October, Taillon was elected by a margin of only two votes over CAire, the MLA for LaPeltrie.

Taillon's departure was expected after he announced last week he was stepping down as leader, but he said at the time he would remain at the ADQ's helm until a new leadership race was held.

He has spent the last week publicly criticizing other ADQ members and hinting at inappropriate bookkeeping within the party, moves that isolated him as leader.

Deltell said he had no knowledge of the financing irregularities, but said if anything improper had been done — he did not endorse it.