Parti Québécois (PQ) leader Paul St-Pierre-Plamondon cut short his paternity leave on Wednesday to defend his candidate in the upcoming byelection in Jean-Talon, who held talks with the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) in the last election.

According to information first reported by 'La Presse' and later confirmed by 'Le Journal de Québec,' PQ candidate Pascal Paradis held talks with the CAQ about a possible candidacy in Charlevoix--Côte-de-Beaupré in the 2022 general election.

According to the reports, the talks broke down because Paradis demanded a ministerial post and that the party pay for his apartment during the campaign.

In a lengthy message published on X (formerly Twitter), St-Pierre-Plamondon completely rejected this version of events.

The PQ leader said that the CAQ had approached Paradis, who had "simply agreed to exploratory talks in which he was guaranteed confidentiality."

According to St-Pierre-Plamondon's version, it was Paradis who refused the CAQ's offer.

"One of the reasons was that he was first told that he would be minister for the Quebec City region, only to withdraw this offer during the discussions," he said.

Paradis is also said to have expressed his opposition to the famous third link, and the CAQ asked him to campaign in silence on the subject.

"As far as I'm concerned, his only mistake was trusting the CAQ to keep their offer confidential," said St-Pierre-Plamondon. "Paradis is an assertive sovereigntist. He is a ministerial calibre candidate who has chosen to run with the Parti Québécois, even though there is unlikely to be a ministerial post waiting for him here at the end of this election."

St-Pierre-Plamondon is due to make the official announcement of Pascal Paradis' candidacy on Thursday. Paradis is a lawyer who, among other things, co-founded Avocats sans frontières, of which he has been CEO since 2004.

Premier François Legault has not yet announced the date of the byelection in Jean-Talon, a Quebec City-area riding. CAQ MNA Joëlle Boutin forced a vote after resigning in July.

For the first time in almost 20 years, the PQ has the wind in its sails in the Quebec City region, according to the polls, and is banking on a victory in Jean-Talon, formerly a Liberal stronghold that the PQ never won.

The Léger poll unveiled last Friday and conducted for the PQ gave it 32 per cent of voting intentions in the riding, compared with 30 per cent for the CAQ.

Jean-Talon was historically a Liberal stronghold until the 2018 election when it switched to the CAQ, but the polls now place the PLQ fourth, at 16 per cent, behind Québec Solidaire (QS), at 17 per cent.

The Liberals have not yet announced a candidate in this constituency.

The media have reported that the CAQ has nominated Marie-Anik Shoiry as its candidate, but the announcement has not yet been made.

QS party members nominated Olivier Bolduc, even though the national executive preferred a female candidate and had recommended voting for his opponent, Christine Gilbert.

Éric Duhaime's Conservative Party has not yet announced who will carry its banner.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Aug. 23, 2023.