Will Peladeau help the PQ's sovereignist cause?
Quebecor president Pierre-Karl Péladeau’s announcement he would be joining the Parti Québécois in the upcoming provincial election was certainly a huge media story and a big day for PQ Leader Pauline Marois.
McGill University political science professor Antonia Maioni said the PQ has a lot to gain from the move and Péladeau is very different from other big names in Quebec politics.
“If you want headlines, it doesn’t hurt to bring a media baron onto your team,” the political analyst told Power Play from Montreal.
Maioni said Péladeau wasn’t just well-known as a Quebec businessman, but also a celebrity in his personal life. “He and his wife Julie Snyder are like the Brangelina of Quebec,” she said.
Péladeau’s company, Quebecor, has a significant media presence in the province of Quebec, with newspapers, television channels and Videotron, its provincial cable TV and internet provider.
In addition to the company’s popularity, Maioni said the success of these media outlets also gives Péladeau an important kind of credibility among Quebec voters.
Péladeau’s candidacy may also pose a dilemma for Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The Quebecor executive has a reputation for private enterprise and union-busting in Quebec, which may appeal to fiscal conservatives and ease economic fears for Quebecers if the province ever separated.
Maioni said that the quest for sovereignty is about both the economy and identity. With Péladeau’s stance out front, Phillipe Couillard will certainly emphasize his Quebec Liberals as the “staying-in-Canada Federalist Party”.
“I think Mr. Péladeau’s job within the PQ is going to be to beat back those scare scenarios,” Maioni said, noting the high-profile candidate has already said on the campaign trail he feels like the economic future of the province is being hampered by being part of Canada.
As for whether Pauline Marois will ever participate in any English-language debates, Maioni said she wants to project gravitas and protect her leadership. “To be handicapped in an English language debate is not something she wants,” she explained. “Even with the simultaneous translation, she would still be handicapped.”
“This Quebec election, it’s about what the majority of Quebecers want. Majority of them are Francophone and she feels that’s enough to have a French language debate during this campaign.”