The current government is obsessed with dismantling the state, as evidenced by the salary offers to public sector workers and cutbacks to services, said Pierre Karl Péladeau at the opening of Parti Québécois national council meeting, held this weekend in Sherbrooke.

In his news conference, as well as during a speech to his members that lasted more than half an hour, Péladeau said the Couillard government is busy devaluing the public sector and demolishing the Quebec model.

To support his argument, Péladeau, who is at his first national council as PQ leader, cited a new Leger-Le Devoir-Journal de Montreal poll published Saturday, which indicated a rise in the rate of dissatisfaction Quebecers have with the current the government.

The poll shows that 64 per cent of Quebecers believe the government is mismanaging negotiations with its public sector employees. The austerity measures have also been poorly received – 54 per cent are against them.

Despite those results, however, the Liberals remain ahead in the polls with 35 per cent support, three points ahead of the Parti Québécois. The CAQ trailed behind at 20 per cent.

A total of 350 people are part of the PQ national council, including the executive, MNAs and presidents of associations. They say they want to use this weekend to define the best tools to promote sovereignty and prepare the groundwork for the next general congress, which should take place next year.

“I have confidence in our grand project and in all Quebecois,” said Péladeau.

Despite early reservations, the PQ leader’s colleagues admit he’s been a great leader for their party.

“Contrary to what some of us expected, he's been very gracious, a unifying force,” said Rosemont MNA Jean-Francois Lisée.

Party organizers pointed to the attendance of Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador.

Péladeau said he wanted to be closer to non-francophones, and try to attract immigrants and citizens of cultural communities traditionally disinclined to join the sovereignist ranks.

The leader conceded that his party still needs to work on allophones and Anglophones, especially given that the Legel poll showed that only 10 per cent of non-francophones support the PQ.

“We will continue to fight, we will continue to talk, we will continue to go to the population, this is what is important for me,” he said.

Bourget MNA Maka Kotta has been asked to head up the effort to re-engage the minority communities.

“Our first challenge is to fight negative stereotypes about us,” he said.

Vachon MNA Martine Ouellet added that the PQ needs a majority to build an independent Quebec, and there remains much to be done.

“When we will decide to do it, we will have work to do to convince people that are not convinced for the moment,” she said.

The Sherbrooke meeting will continue through to Sunday.