PQ must show 'restraint' in absence of permanent leader, says Sylvain Gaudreault

With the fall session at the National Assembly nearing, the Parti Québécois's interim leader admitted he can't be as vocal on certain subjects as he may want to be.

'We need to leave room to manoeuvre for whomever becomes the next leader,' interim chief says

Sylvain Gaudreault says the Parti Québécois can't afford to be too vocal about certain issues in the absence of a permanent leader. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

With the fall session at the National Assembly nearing, the Parti Québécois's interim leader admitted he can't be as vocal on certain subjects as he may want to be.

Sylvain Gaudreault was responding to criticism from leadership candidate Martine Ouellet that the two-day caucus meeting lacked discussion over sovereignty.

He said while the party has to fulfil its role as official opposition, it can't afford to take positions on issues such as sovereignty that may be overturned by the incoming leader and must show "restraint."

"We have a leadership race and it's quite all right that candidates take positions but we need to leave room to manoeuvre for whomever becomes the next leader," he said.

Hostility during meetings

Friction between the leadership candidates dominated the party's two-day caucus meetings in Gatineau, which was meant to be a showcase how the PQ will take on the Couillard government during the upcoming session at the National Assembly.

Day one saw three of the leadership candidates gang up against frontrunner Cloutier. They say his supporters are blocking their access to grassroots party members, an accusation Cloutier brushed off.

The hostilities continued on day two. While Ouellet was speaking to reporters ahead of the day's meeting, Cloutier arrived with the MNAs supporting him in tow.

As they waited for her to finish speaking, they started singing and speaking loudly.

"I think it's his way to do politics. I would say it's something like old politics. And that's kind of sad for a young man," she said.

Calls for more funding for immigrant integration

Gaudreault told reporters at his closing news conference that his party will pressure the Couillard government to spend more money on integrating newcomers.

He says while immigration levels have risen over the years, tools such as French classes and job training have been underfunded.

"This is the battle we will wage in order to have the necessary resources with the level (of immigration). If we don't, immigrants will not be well integrated into Quebec society," he says.

Cloutier does about face on Saguenay debate

It was never clear where Cloutier stood when it came to a debate in Saguenay, opening him up to an attack by his opponents.

Today he came out and clarified his position. He now says he'll participate in any and all debates, including a new one organized by a separatist group in Saguenay Sept. 18

"That wasn't the rule at the time but now if everyone wants to do so I will definitely participate in all of them," he said.

He had been feeling the heat over the past 24 hours. His opponents have been calling him the establishment candidate because of the support he wields in caucus.

This is the party's second leadership race in two years. MNAs Cloutier, Jean-Francois Lisée, Ouellet and Montreal lawyer Paul St-Pierre Plamondon are vying for the party's top job.

PQ members will vote Oct. 5 to 7 with the winner announced Oct. 7.


Ryan Hicks is in his final year as a law student at McGill University and is a former Quebec political correspondent for the CBC. In 2018, he won the Amnesty International Media Award for his reporting from Guatemala about the root causes of migration from Central America to the United States.