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PQ elects Stephane Bedard to interim leader post
Stephane Bedard has been named as the Parti Quebecois’ interim leader in a unanimous vote Thursday evening.
Bédard's said his first priorities will be to ensure a smooth transition with the Liberals, who trounced the party in Monday’s election, then pick a shadow cabinet.
“Our role is to be the official opposition,” he said.
Bedard's brother is a close associate of Pierre Karl Peladeau, a possible eventual candidate for the party leadership.
Bedard also said he will be neutral in eventual leadership race after some had questioned if Bedard could be neutral in the leadership race.
The decision came at the end of day that saw all of the Parti Quebecois’ 124 candidates who ran in the election gather in Quebec City to conduct an autopsy of the party's electoral failure.
The behind-closed-doors meeting likely devolved into unpleasant territory quickly, as the candidates that were not elected were given the floor to express their criticism of the campaign.
“It won’t be pretty. A lot of them will blame the leader,” pundit Jean Lapierre told CTV Montreal Thursday.
Outgoing premier Pauline Marois, who was not re-elected, attended the meeting but shied away from cameras.
Though many pointed to Pierre Karl Peladeau’s emphatic entrance into the race as the moment it all went south for the party, Peledeau had no regrets.
“I’m a sovereignist,” he said.
The PQ’s trouncing was chalked up to voters reacting to fears of a referendum should the PQ win a majority government.
Pundits say Peladeau bringing up sovereignty and Marois waxing poetic on what a sovereign Quebec were missteps for the party, but sovereignty is still the goal for the party.
“We're going to have work harder to convince those who do not believe in Quebec's independence,” said Bernard Drainville, the minister responsible for the Charter of Values.
Drainville openly criticized his party’s strategy regarding the proposed charter many considered to be overly divisive.
“I’m still confident that we could have found a compromise with the CAQ and found a compromise on the charter,” he said.
But in September, the PQ said any changes made to the charter would be minor and its basic elements would remain intact.
Borduas MNA Pierre Duchesne blamed the failure on the PQ's ability to sell their message to a dubious crowd.
“We were battling against an enormous beast: cynicism,” he told CTV Montreal.
And another defeated candidate, Emilien Pelletier, blamed the media for the blowout, saying journalists painted the PQ’s message in a negative light.
After that session, the room was emptied of all but the 30 elected PQ MNAs, who embarked upon the task of choosing an interim leader.
Among the names bandied about were Francois Gendron, Bedard and Agnes Maltais.
Bedard is a lawyer by trade. He has represented the Chicoutimi riding since 1998, and was the Government House Leader up until the election call.
He also acted as legal counsel for the Yes side during the 1995 referendum.
A permanent leader might only be chosen in April of 2015.
And according to Lapierre, the leadership campaign won’t be pretty.
“Every leadership race gets ugly, but (it will be) even worse with the PQ because they are a bunch of big mouths,” he said.