Conservative leader Eric Duhaime trying to court MNAs to his party
Conservative leader Éric Duhaime has contacted a "handful" of MNAs, mainly from the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ), in the hopes of convincing them to cross the floor.
Duhaime was asked about his poaching efforts on Wednesday at a press conference in Quebec City, where the temporary departure of Marie-Louise Tardif from the CAQ caucus was discussed.
He said Tardif was not among the elected officials contacted, and that he was waiting for the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) to clear her of allegations of threats and intimidation before approaching her.
"It's important for her and for us that she is cleared in this story. I think that is the first step before we can have a dialogue," said the Conservative leader.
Successfully attracting an MNA to his ranks would open the doors of the National Assembly and allow the Conservative Party of Quebec (PCQ) to speak in the Blue Room, among other things.
"From the moment we are blocked all access, the only option left is to attract a member," he argued. "It's certain that in the medium and long term, [not having an MNA] has an impact."
The PCQ leader said Wednesday that he had already spoken to Tardif's brother, Michel Tardif, who ran under the Conservative banner in Bellechasse in the last election.
He suggested that the party could offer Marie-Louise Tardif more "visibility," a "platform" and "freedom of speech."
"I understand that she did not have much freedom of expression in the CAQ, if I trust what she said during the last election campaign," said Duhaime.
Tardif, who represents the riding of Laviolette-Saint-Maurice, had criticized the CAQ, saying that for backbenchers, the party could be "quite restrictive and controlling."
On Oct. 3, Duhaime's PCQ won 13 per cent of the vote, but did not elect any MNAs.
In 2021, the party had managed to recruit Iberville MNA Claire Samson after she was excluded from the CAQ caucus for donating to Duhaime's team.
"There are always people who are disappointed in organizations. It's normal, there are all sorts of frustrations that we experience when we are in politics, whether in government or in opposition," said Duhaime.
On Wednesday, he had good words for the CAQ MNA for Saint-Jérôme, Youri Chassin, who is currently piloting the file of private mini-hospitals.
It is "someone I have known for a very long time ... which, philosophically, is a Conservative," he said, but said he had never had "discussions" with him.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on March 8, 2023.
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