Embattled Parti Quebecois Leader Andre Boisclair on Friday rebuffed criticism by a departing executive member by saying someone with “real courage,” would have stayed to help the party through its current turmoil.
Boisclair said slamming the door in a huff is the old PQ way of behaving, but that has to end because the public is fed up with the drama.
“The real courage is not to leave and shut the door,” Boisclair said in reference to the resignation of the PQ’s Quebec City region’s PQ president, Philippe-Edwin Belanger. “The real courage is to engage in a debate.”
Belanger quit Thursday, accusing Boisclair of being afraid to face the party rank-and-file in a confidence vote this year or in early 2008 following the PQ’s disastrous March 26 election performance.
He was asked about a Le Soleil newspaper report that a group of sovereignty hard-liners —_including Patrick Bourgeois, editor of the sovereigntist newspaper Le Quebecois, and movie-maker Pierre Falardeau — were planning a May 4 meeting to discuss the creation of a new hard-line separatist party.
They accused Boisclair of being soft on separatism and planning to transform the PQ into a new kind of nationalist organization that will back attempts by the other parties to leverage more power out of Ottawa.
The Parti Quebecois vision of an independent quasi-socialist state linked in some nebuluous economic union with Canada has probably passed its sell-by date. Economic dirigisme is losing favour in Quebec and the economic union was always a non-starter, and if anything, reflected a certain timidity within the separatist movement.
But centuries of history and resentment cannot be set aside as blithely as economic policies. As long as there are Quebecois, there will be Quebecois nationalism.
The PQ compromised repeatedly on the principle of Quebec independence by hedging it with qualifiers about "sovereignty-association" and "winning conditions" instead of charging ahead for independence, full stop. And having compromised the principle, it has compromised its own survival.
The prospects for an uncompromising separatist party might never be better than with the failure of the PQ. At least it would recapture the vigour that the movement needs.