Jacques Parizeau says Parti Québécois has lost its soul
Man who brought Quebec to verge of sovereignty in 1995 referendum says PQ isn't what it used to be
Ex-Quebec premier Jacques Parizeau has once again criticized the Parti Québécois, saying his former party has lost its soul and is facing a "field of ruins."
In a long interview with Radio-Canada, Parizeau said he hardly recognizes the PQ anymore.
"We've gradually demolished this party, and we made it lose its soul," he said.
He repeated an expression he used in 2014 to describe what he saw as the PQ's future: "A field of ruins."
A large part of the problem, Parizeau said, is that it seems PQ members "don't believe in themselves. So how do you expect people to believe in them?"
The interview with the man who was PQ leader during the 1995 referendum campaign was conducted in February.
Has PQ lost its momentum?
Parizeau said the PQ lost its momentum because of constant, "Byzantine" debates regarding the best time to call an independence referendum.
He said he hasn't discounted the possibility of Quebec sovereignty, but it all depends on the will of the province's younger people. He credits today's young Quebecers with being ambitious and hungry for success, which gives him hope for the future.
"(These people) are collectively very ambitious," he said. "They aren't losers; they have a habit of succeeding."
However, the Quebec economy continues to be a source of worry for the former premier. According to him, the province needs some pushing to help small and medium-sized businesses with innovation and modernization.
He didn't keep his criticism just for the PQ, telling Radio-Canada the current Liberal government's budget cuts are too deep.
"There is a fixation on the zero deficit," he said. "I think it's religious. There is no need to provoke the psychodrama that we are seeing right now in Quebec."
Current PQ reacts
Current PQ leadership candidate Bernard Drainville said that although he hadn't yet listened to the entire interview with Parizeau, the former premier made some good points.
"The leadership campaign is really the occasion to renew our party, to bring new ideas, to bring in new members as well, to agree on a vision that will please Quebecers, that will please workers, regions, families, the middle class," Drainville said.
"The PQ needs to refocus itself on its raison d'être: sovereignty and social democracy, as I have proposed," fellow leadership candidate Martine Ouellet tweeted.
Interim PQ leader Stéphane Bédard, however, said he was disappointed by Parizeau's comments.
He said Parizeau in the past 20 years has become a critic of the party and its struggle with promoting sovereignty, rather than help them promote Quebec separation.
"I can't get into the 'we're good/we're not good.' We're doing our work properly. I wouldn't criticize the past, what he did, what he didn't do, what he should have done," Bédard told Radio-Canada on Tuesday.
"I invite him to talk about the future. That would be more useful for everyone."
With files from The Canadian Press and Radio-Canada