Pierre Karl Peladeau to run in St. Jerome
Media mogul Pierre Karl Peladeau, 52, has finally made his long-rumoured jump into politics by announcing his candidacy for the PQ in St. Jerome.
"Some might say that I’m pugnacious. Others will say I‘m a battler. I have one way of seeing things, looking forward with determination regardless of barriers," he said at a press conference Sunday morning after being introduced by Premier Pauline Marois.
Peladeau, the controlling shareholder of Quebec’s largest media conglomerate. said that he has a profound connection to the area he is running in, a riding of 54,000 about 45 minutes north of Montreal.
"I passed my teenage years, probably the best days of my life, in the area. My first jobs, cook, dishwasher were in St. Sauveur. Some might recall I was a bit of a rebel, I'd hitchhike between Montreal via St Jerome," he said.
Rumours had been swirling for months that Peladeau would run for the PQ, but the longtime former Quebecor boss denied it outright, notably on February 26 in Levis when he categorically denied that he would run.
The St. Jerome seat had been held by CAQ MNA Jacques Duchesneau, who recently announced that he would not run again. Duchesneau, in spite of his popular campaign against corruption, won the seat in 2012 by under 1,000 votes over the PQ candidate Gilles Robert.
“It’s good for the PQ because what they’re weak on is their economic message and on the deficits they’re running, so this brings some business acumen to the table,” said Carleton Political Science Professor Bruce Hicks (watch full interview in video above).
Last year Premier Pauline Marois appointed Peladeau chairman of Hydro-Quebec, a post he said that he had quit, along with all of his other media management positions, in order to run for the seat.
The high profile Peladeau is also vice-chairman of the board of Quebecor (TSX:QBR.B), the conglomerate founded by his father Pierre Peladeau which owns the Sun tabloids and the Sun News Network in English Canada.
Peladeau thanked TV host Julie Snyder, the mother of two of his three children, for her support in his decision to run following mediation with a psychoanalyst during the time of their separation.
"I am doing this for my three children, Marie, Thomas and Remi with the wish to give them a country they’ll be proud of," said Peladeau, making one of several allusions to his dedication to the separatist cause.
Peladeau has also been seen as an eventual candidate to replace Pauline Marois as leader of the Parti Quebecois but when asked about his long-term ambitons, Peladeau replied that he was concentrating on running in St. Jerome.
Labour, left denounce decision
Not all celebrated the news, however. The FTQ labour union, which represents 600,000 Quebec workers, reacted negatively to Peladeau's candidacy, issuing a press release describing the media boss as “probably one of the worst employers in the history of Quebec” and called his labour relations legacy - which includes 14 lockouts - a “catastrophe for the workers of Quebec.”
Quebec Solidaire also slammed Peladeau's candidacy. "Today thousands can mourn the party of René Lévesque," QS spokesperson Françoise David wrote in a press release, which listed the workers' lockouts Peladeau oversaw at Videotron in 2003, the Journal de Montreal in 2008 and the Reveil de Jonquiere in 2009, among others.
She later tweeted that "a QS MNA will never sit on the same side of the bench as Pierre Karl Peladeau."
Liberal leader Philippe Couillard downplayed the news.
“His messages become those of the Parti Quebecois. Whether it’s Peladeau or someone else, anybody running for the PQ is campaigning to separate Quebec from Canada and have a referendum as soon as possible,” said Liberal leader Philippe Couillard.
CAQ leader Francois Legault, who had also been a successful entrepreneur in the PQ, said that Peladeau would be quickly disappointed by the party's obesession with holding a referendum.
“When I joined the PQ, I was a bit like him, I told myself ‘we’ll be able to relaunch the Quebec economy and we’ll be able to tame the union lobby’ and I was disappointed,” said Legault. “I realized that in the PQ, financial and economic reforms are all taken hostage by one subject, the referendum.”
Another quipster took to Twitter to rechristen the PQ, "Parti Quebecor," a reference to the vast power of the business interests that the new candidate represents.