Next Liberal party leader could be chosen as early as fall 2023
Quebec Liberal leader Dominique Anglade announces her resignation as leader of the party and MNA in Montreal, on Monday, November 7, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
QUEBEC CITY -- The next leader of the Quebec Liberal Party (QLP) could be elected next year, in the fall of 2023, at the earliest.
In the meantime, Dominique Anglade's interim successor should be named on Thursday.
Ever since Anglade resigned on Monday, speculation has been rife as to who might be interested in taking her place as the head of the party.
The speculation seems premature, however, because before a leadership race is launched, an established process will be set in motion.
The decision to launch that process is in the hands of the party's executive council, which meets once a month. The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 21.
The executive will decide at one of those meetings whether to appoint a chair for the organizing committee of the leadership contest.
That chairperson will have to recruit members for a committee, which will be responsible for setting the rules for the leadership race. They include the criteria to determine if a candidate is suitable (the amount of money to be paid at the time of registration, the number of members to be recruited in how many ridings in all regions of Quebec, etc.).
Above all, the committee will have to determine how long the leadership race will last, the moment when it officially begins, and of course, the date of the big night when the new leader will be chosen.
The rules, developed in the coming months by the committee, will then have to be adopted by the General Council, next spring at the earliest, with a view toward a leadership convention in the fall of 2023, or the spring of 2024.
Having a new QLP leader next fall, "is an early scenario, but not impossible," agreed the new president of the party, Rafaël Primeau-Ferraro, in a telephone interview on Tuesday.
The idea until then, he explained, is to find the right balance between rules that are strict enough to prevent frivolous candidacies, but flexible enough not to scare away high-calibre candidates.
The party leadership will also have to consider the high costs of a leadership race and whether it can afford it in the short term since it will cost an estimated $400,000, at least.
But the party president says cost is not an issue. On the contrary, a leadership convention is a golden opportunity for the party to replenish its coffers and increase the number of members, he said, since each potential candidate will have to demonstrate they can attract new members.
In the meantime, the interim leader, who will be chosen Thursday from the 19-member Liberal caucus, could also theoretically be a candidate to succeed Anglade, though traditionally that has not been the case.
The party's executive met Monday night to pass a resolution to provide the interim leader with more guidance and to establish that they must step down by a specific date if they wish to run.
Usually, the interim leader is an experienced MNA who is respected and trusted by their colleagues. Members choose them by consensus before they're endorsed by the executive. The names currently circulating are Marc Tanguay and André Fortin.
At the same time, the party president promises not to skip the necessary post-mortem of the last, catastrophic election campaign to hear what members have to say.
The party only managed to get 21 MNAs elected on Oct. 3, and only garnered 14 per cent of the popular vote. The caucus has since been reduced to 19 MNAs with the resignation of Anglade and the exclusion of Marie-Claude Nichols.
Primeau-Ferraro isn't ruking out the idea of holding a policy convention, so there can be some reflection about the population's disenchantment with the party, and the ways to fight it and regain popularity.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Nov.8, 2022.