Montreal

Marois in control despite PQ nomination brawl, analyst says

A weekend shoving match between PQ members that required police intervention doesn't reflect on leader Pauline Marois's ability to unite the party, said a prominent Quebec sovereigntist and former adviser to past Parti Québécois premiers.
Police were called in to break up a fight at a weekend PQ nomination meeting in the riding of l'Assomption. ((CBC))
A weekend shoving match between PQ members that required police intervention doesn't reflect on leader Pauline Marois's ability to unite the party, said a prominent Quebec sovereigntist and former adviser to past Parti Québécois premiers.

The Saturday fight, which took place at a party nomination meeting in the riding of l'Assomption, saw PQ members push, shove and shout at each other in a hostile faceoff that led to a dozen police officers being called in.

The schoolyard scuffle is embarrassing and "precisely what you don't want" to happen at the start of an election campaign, Jean-François Lisée told CBC Montreal.

But it's not evidence that Marois has lost control of her party, said Lisée, who once worked as a political adviser to former PQ premier Jacques Parizeau. 

"Pauline Marois's ability to lead has been demonstrated in all the [ministries] she led" while she was in cabinet, said Lisée, who now directs CERIUM, the University of Montreal's school for international studies.

The fight broke out at a nomination meeting to elect former Green leader Scott McKay as the PQ candidate in the riding. His supporters tried to prevent people from Jean-Claude St-André's camp from entering the building.

St-André is a PQ hardliner and former member of the legislature representing l'Assomption who was barred from running in the riding because he has yet to reimburse the party for debt incurred in the last election.

The fight happened the same day the PQ was seeking good press for its election platform. Marois called the fight "unacceptable in a democratic society," and blamed those who committed them.

"I feel bad that things happened this way."

The rambunctious crowd included members of the Jeunes patriotes du Québec, who rallied around St-André's cause. St-André himself has been at odds with the new PQ leadership over Marois's firm intention to put any sovereignty referendum on ice.

The incident led to speculation that the party under Marois's leadership is having trouble keeping its more radical wings in check. Marois said radical factions are "a part of life in the PQ. We live with this reality."

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