Marois strongly backed by PQ members
Parti Québécois members resoundingly endorsed the leadership of Pauline Marois on Saturday, giving her 93.1 per cent support in a confidence vote.
The score, which even topped the 92 per cent backing that popular leader Jacques Parizeau garnered in 1991, is a massive boost for Marois with a provincial election likely to be held next year or in 2013.
"My victory is your victory," Marois told about 1,700 cheering delegates.
"My victory is the victory of a unified party, a party that wants to propose to the Quebec people a country that is free and a country that is independent."
'We want a country'
As the delegates chanted "On veut un pays (We want a country)," Marois immediately replied: "We want a country. and we will get it, our country."
In rallying party members at the weekend policy convention, Marois was able to avoid a potential banana peel in a party known for turning on its leaders.
Bernard Landry stepped down as PQ leader in 2005 when he got just 76.2 per cent support from party delegates, while Lucien Bouchard stayed on after getting virtually the same score in 1996.
She will now be able to concentrate on hammering away at the governing Liberals, who were last elected in December 2008.
Premier Jean Charest, whose party has a slight majority in the national assembly, can wait until December 2013 before calling the next provincewide vote.
Earlier on Saturday, PQ members endorsed Marois' strategy of not getting boxed into any specific timetable for holding a sovereignty referendum.
The convention ends on Sunday.