Talk of PKP's return shakes up PQ MNAs at caucus retreat
Caucus rallies around current leader, Jean-François Lisée, after former chief’s comeback talk
Parti Québécois MNAs have rushed to show support for their current leader, Jean-François Lisée, after former party chief Pierre Karl Péladeau surprised everyone Tuesday with talk of a possible return.
The Quebecor media owner told Radio-Canada he is ready to lend a hand to the party he led briefly, from May 2015 to May 2016, and that his daughter is encouraging him to throw his hat back in the ring.
The news knocked the PQ off its message track on the first day of the Official Opposition's Shawinigan caucus retreat, thrusting the future of the party and their former leader onto centre stage.
Despite his abrupt departure as party leader, he maintains a strong following from the party's base.
There's already speculation the multi-millionaire's return to politics could create a power struggle within the party.
From China, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said the Parti Québécois would "have its hands full" with conflict of interest questions if Quebec's biggest media owner were to return to politics.
'We always knew he would be back'
Many said Péladeau would be welcomed back as a candidate.
"He never left. When he quit, he really quit for family reasons. We always knew he would be back," said Pointe-aux-Trembles MNA Nicole Léger.
Abitibi-Ouest MNA François Gendron said Péladeau would be a welcome as a team member — not as a replacement leader.
"The leader of the PQ for the next election is Jean-François Lisée," said Gendron.
Lisée told reporters he spoke to Péladeau Tuesday, and again today, hoping to persuade him to seek a nomination. His return could bring some sovereignists voters back to the fold, Lisée said.
As for conflict of interest issues, Lisée, who once raised those issues himself, now says the matter is resolved.
He is also batting away the suggestion the media tycoon might be waiting for him to fail in the October election in order to make a comeback as leader.
"I think people like to believe that, but he never said anything like that," said Lisée.
With files from The Canadian Press