DRUMMONDVILLE - Former Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois has pledged not to become a back-seat driver for her party.

In her last speech before the PQ supporters, she promised to stay away from debates.

The reference is to many former PQ leaders, who often appear in the news criticizing the choices made by the PQ.

She said the current decline of the party is essential, and it is now the turn of activists to discuss that. She said she will remain available; always attentive but discreet.

Marois told reporters Saturday, "I'm retired. I'm a grandmother. That's what I'm doing for now."

Marois specified that she is retiring from public life but did not rule out further work outside of politics.

The first female premier of Quebec also had a message for girls and women, telling them to enter politics if that's their dream.

"I regret absolutely nothing!" she said.

She also had a few last words on the controversial issue of religious symbols, stating that a neural, secular state is the only way for Quebec to be open to the world.

She also said that Quebec sovereignty will depend on its appeal to young Quebecers.

"Young people want to live in a country of ideals," she said, challenging her party to convince young voters and "Be masters of their destinies."

The party will struggle with that. A new Leger poll released Saturday shows the PQ sliding even further into third place, with 20 per cent of the vote, compared to the CAQ's 29 per cent. The Liberals still hold a strong lead with 39 per cent.

Former minister and potential leadership candidate Pascal Berube, MNA for Matane-Matapedia, said Marois as premier made a big mistake.

"We didn't understand that we are a minority government, (we should) make more consultations with the opposition," he said.

Many wanted to thank Marois, especially for her political career, especially for launching Quebec's public daycares.

"She was a very interesting leader with a different leadership than what we are used to having in politics," said former PQ health minister Rejean Hebert.

While some argued her campaign strategy was flawed, and she was kept in a bubble, Marois said she was fully aware and takes responsibility for the failed effort.

"I am very proud of what we did together with the Parti Quebecois as a leader and I am sure there is a place in the history for the Parti Quebecois," she said.

The timing of the PQ's leadership race wont be known until the fall. Many party leaders argue it's essential the party open up the process and have a primary-style election so that all Quebecers may vote on the new leader.

With files from La Presse Canadienne