Québec Solidaire at crossroads as it mulls alliance with Parti Québécois

As ​Québec Solidaire gathers for their annual convention over the weekend in Montreal, party members will be confronted with a pivotal decision — should the pro-sovereignist, left-wing party forge a pact with the Parti Québécois?

Québec Solidaire members to decide party’s future at convention this weekend

Some Québec Solidaire members say they are leery of any potential pact with the PQ. (Édith Drouin/Radio-Canada)

As ​Québec Solidaire gathers for their annual convention in Montreal, party members will be confronted with a pivotal decision — should the pro-sovereignist, left-wing party forge a pact with the Parti Québécois? 

Several proposals will be put up for a vote either today or Monday, including whether to enter negotiations with the PQ, which could result in an agreement not to run competing candidates in certain ridings, or in a harmonization of their party programs.

The 500 participants will also vote on whether to reject any partnership outright, or try to form a grand coalition with all opposition parties in the hope of reforming the electoral system.

In the view of some members, these decisions could determine how Quebec voters see the party, and whether they can be trusted to fight for progressive ideas.

"What we will decide there will be very much important for everyone in Quebec, not only for us," said André Frappier, a member of the party and former Québec Solidaire candidate for the Montreal riding of Crémazie, in an interview with CBC's Quebec AM.

"Are we going to fight for a perspective, an inspiring project that will include everybody in Quebec or make a deal to try to get more ridings?"

The party has only two seats in the National Assembly, with its most prominent member, Françoise David, having quit politics earlier this year.

Québec Solidaire will also be leaving the convention with a new voice. Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois and Manon Massé, the MNA for Sainte-Marie–Saint-Jacques, were elected as co-spokespeople by the party's members. 

Nadeau-Dubois, a former student leader, is running to replace David in Gouin. 

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, Québec Solidaire's candidate in the Gouin byelection, will not face any competition from a PQ candidate. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

Pact may be a tough sell for some members

The more-established Parti Québécois is pressing for some sort of alliance between the parties. Since 2008, Québec Solidaire has progressively been nibbling seats away from the PQ. 

PQ leader Jean-François Lisée argues that some sort of understanding could topple Quebec's current Liberal government.

As a gesture of goodwill, the PQ chose not to run a candidate in the May 29 byelection in Gouin, David's old riding, even though Québec Solidaire has asked for and offered nothing in return.

PQ party leader Jean-François Lisée is open to an alliance with Québec Solidaire. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

Some Québec Solidaire members are leery of any potential pact with the PQ.

"We are not facing the most exciting deal of the century," said Pierre Dostie, who ran for QS in a byelection in the riding of Chicoutimi.

He would rather be discussing Quebec independence — a goal that both the PQ and Québec Solidaire aspire to.

"To beat the Liberals and to replace it with something that looks like the Liberals is not especially exciting," he said.

For Frappier the proposed Quebec secular charter of values, an attempt to ban public servants from wearing religious symbols introduced under a Parti Québécois government, has made him wary of a QS-PQ alliance

"When they put forward some kind of exclusion, and some say racist policies to get elected, there's a red line there and I am not going to work with that kind of political party," Frappier said.

Another possible alliance

Also on the table this weekend's convention is a possible alliance with the more-marginal Option Nationale party, which has never won a seat in provincial politics.

Québec Solidaire finished fourth in the 2014 provincial election, with eight per cent of the popular vote.

with files from Glenn Wannamaker