Parti Quebecois election post-mortem puts spotlight on sovereignty

The Parti Quebecois must be more clear about its sovereigntist ambitions if it wants to achieve success, several party members argued at an election post-mortem on Saturday.

The PQ called last month's vote in the hope of securing a majority government, but instead suffered a devastating loss to Philippe Couillard's Liberals.

The result -- the party's worst electoral defeat since 1970 with a popular vote of just 25 per cent -- has led to soul-searching within the party about the best way forward.

Rejean Hebert, a former health minister who lost his seat in the election, is among those who believe there was too much confusion about the PQ's stance on independence during the campaign.

"I think we need to have a position that's much clearer on sovereignty, where we can explain our option and not speculate on an eventual referendum," he said at a Laval hotel, where about 150 PQ members gathered for a closed-door meeting.

That same position was outlined by one of the movement's elder statesmen, Jacques Parizeau, in a lengthy newspaper column published Saturday.

Parizeau argued in Le Journal de Montreal that sovereignty is the PQ's raison d'etre and it should be a focus, even during an election campaign.

It shouldn't be used as a "kind of flag that’s waved from time to time to keep the faithful in the ranks," Parizeau wrote.

Like Hebert, PQ president Raymond Archambault agreed with Parizeau's take.

"It's a good message," he said in Laval.

The PQ often shies away from talk of independence during an election for fear of losing votes over the polarizing issue.

Sovereignty wasn't expected to be a focus of the April 7 vote, but it was thrust to the forefront after star candidate Pierre Karl Peladeau declared his commitment to making Quebec a country.

Marois, who stepped down as PQ leader after losing her seat, made a surprise appearance at the event but didn't speak to the media.

The former premier has been out of the public eye since bidding an emotional goodbye to politics last month.

During the election campaign, Marois took heat for not giving a clear answer to questions about the timeline for another referendum, saying repeatedly she would call one when the population was ready.

Couillard, meanwhile, hammered away at the notion that a PQ majority would mean another referendum and a decade of economic instability.

Photo: Paul Chiasson/THE CANADIAN PRESS

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  1. Joe posted on 05/03/2014 07:38 PM
    They discovered that they lost the election was lost because the Liberals exploited the fact that separation was the clans main goal.
    So lets sum up this waste of time, they are saying they did not talk enough about what 75% of the population does want talk about. Can't wait till the next election so they can figure out something that has been the same thing for the past 40 years.
  2. Sic posted on 05/04/2014 07:55 AM
    You will NEVER attain your dream. The best part is thy are all getting too old t
    ever see it if it ever happened. BOO HOO!
  3. Heather posted on 05/04/2014 11:16 AM
    That is what happened during the campaign. Talk of sovereignty inevitably leads to talk of referendum. You can't have one without the other. The PQ must realize that the overwhelming majority of Quebecers do not want to separate. So, therefore, their raison d'être is a losing proposition. So why do this still exist again?
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