PQ hunkers down after being spurned by potential sovereignist ally

The Parti Québécois was in damage-control mode on Tuesday after a difficult stretch that saw a proposed alliance with Québec Solidaire shot down and opinion polls place them third among voters.

Jean-François Lisée puts on brave face following rejection by Québec Solidaire, dismal opinion polls

Parti Québécois leader Jean-François Lisée said the PQ would welcome Québec Solidaire supporters who don't agree with their party's refusal to consider merging the two parties. (CBC)

The Parti Québécois was in damage-control mode on Tuesday after a difficult stretch that saw a proposed alliance with Québec Solidaire shot down and opinion polls place them third among prospective voters. 

Speaking before an emergency caucus meeting in Quebec City, PQ Leader Jean-François Lisée maintained his party is in the best position to take down the Liberal government in the next election and avoid another "four years of austerity."

"We are the only ones who can do that," he told reporters.

The comments come after Québec Solidaire members opted Sunday to reject a strategic alliance that had been proposed by the PQ.

The move was touted as a way to unite the sovereignist movement ahead of the 2018 election.

But Québec Solidaire spurned the PQ's advances.

Advances rebuffed

Québec Solidaire holds only two seats in the National Assembly but is seen as a threat to the PQ's progressive flank, potentially siphoning votes.

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, one of Québec Solidaire's newly elected co-spokespeople, said Monday that ideological "incoherence and inconsistency" within the PQ turned his party's members off the idea of an alliance.

He accused the PQ of flip-flopping on policy issues important to Québec Solidaire members, such as the environment and immigration.

"Those changes in position greatly eroded the confidence that could have existed between the PQ and Québec Solidaire," he said.

On Tuesday, Lisée criticized Québec Solidaire for failing to "go beyond their partisan interests." 

"The PQ has always wanted to be part of the solution, a party of openness," he said. 

The latest opinion polls, however, suggest support for his party is waning. 

Poll aggregator Qc125 puts the PQ in third place behind the Liberals and the Coalition Avenir Québec, based on two recent polls by the firms Mainstreet and Léger.

QS supporters want talks with PQ, Lisée says

Lisée pointed to one Léger poll, which showed 87 per cent of QS supporters in favour of talks with the PQ about a potential merger. 

"Now, if Québec Solidaire doesn't want to speak with us, we know 87 per cent of their supporters want this, have good sense and think it's necessary," Lisée said. 

It's now up to those "disappointed, orphaned" supporters to decide what to do, Lisée said.

"We're saying, 'You were right, you the 87 per cent of voters of Quebec Solidaire [were right] to want this pact,'" he told reporters Tuesday afternoon. 

"If you want to be part of the solution, we're the inclusive party — and we welcome you."