Parti Quebecois take another blow as Martin Ouellet leaves politics
The dominos keep falling on the Parti Québécois (PQ), as the party is losing another one of its members.
The MNA for René-Lévesque on the North Shore, Martin Ouellet, who was the parliamentary leader of the third opposition, has chosen not to be on the ballot on Oct. 3.
He made the official announcement on Tuesday in Baie-Comeau, in the heart of a nationalist region, a long-time PQ stronghold.
This fall, however, things could be different with the departure of Ouellet, as François Legault's Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) may see an opportunity to make a gain on the North Shore, which has resisted the governing party until now.
And once again, Legault is recruiting from the Parti Québécois ranks.
Legault will waste no time as he travels to Baie-Comeau on Wednesday to announce in person that the city's mayor, known for his PQ past, Yves Montigny, will be the CAQ's candidate in René-Lévesque.
Like others before him, such as recently announced candidates Caroline St-Hilaire and Bernard Drainville, Montigny is making the jump from the PQ to the CAQ.
In 2015, when Ouellet entered politics, Montigny was also in line to win the PQ nomination in René-Lévesque, but his opponent was chosen.
Ouellet's decision not to run is in addition to those recently announced by Véronique Hivon (Joliette), Sylvain Gaudreault (Jonquière) and Lorraine Richard (Duplessis, the other North Shore riding). That is more than half of the PQ caucus (four out of seven) who are not seeking a new mandate.
In a news conference, the father of two young children said he was leaving for "uniquely personal" and family reasons.
He said he was disappointed that he did not succeed in promoting a cross-party parliamentary reform that would have facilitated the reconciliation of work and family life, especially for elected officials living in regions far from major centres.
Ouellet gave a detailed account of his achievements in the riding since 2015, when he was elected in a by-election. He was re-elected in 2018 with a majority of 1,623 votes.
Since the 2018 election, the PQ has also lost three other MNAs: Catherine Fournier (Marie-Victorin), who became an independent before giving up her seat to be elected mayor of Longueuil, Harold LeBel (Rimouski), who is facing sexual assault charges, and Sylvain Roy (Bonaventure), who chose to sit as an independent.
Calling himself a proud "independent" now and forever, Ouellet praised his leader, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, as a man of "truth, authenticity, dedication, integrity."
"Martin has travelled over 300,000 km during his career as an MNA, and we can see the extent of the sacrifices and work he has accomplished. We can understand his desire to get back to his family and his young children, to get back to a more normal life," Plamondon said.
"He helped me grow as a person, as a politician and as a leader."
-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on June 14, 2022.