A big tent it isn't

You can say many things about Pauline Marois, and many have. She’s bourgeoise, she has an Imelda-type infatuation with high heels, she lives in a garish chateau in the exburbs, she has an uncanny resemblance to a Tintin character. She is also politically savvy enough to have realized, after her party’s embarrassing defeat last year, that the PQ’s commitment to holding a referendum during its first mandate in power was the mother of all albatrosses. Marois said she would only return to the party if the referendum clause was put to pasture – and it was, officially and quickly, last month, with hardly a whimper.

So where, pray tell, have all the pur et durs gone? For the most part they’ve stuck around, likely waiting for the next election to launch yet another bloody internal war for which the party is famous. Some, though, aren’t waiting that long.

Enter Le Parti Independantiste. Led by plucky 28-year-old lawyer Eric Tremblay, the party proposes a unilateral declaration of independence the moment it holds a majority of the seats in National Assembly.In the youtubeian video on the site, Tremblay has the chutzpah to say that “61 percent of Quebecers voted for their own country” (sure, I guess, if you consider anyone who isn’t French as lesser Quebecers), then declaring Quebec independence is a “uniting force.” The party already has two ‘star’ supporters: author and peerless self-promoter Victor-Lévy Beaulieu and Ghislain Lebel, a former Bloc MP and one-time PQ leadership hopeful. Both are formerly dedicated Péquistes.

Fringe? No doubt. But P-I supporters have effectively declared war on the PQ – “The real enemy,” declared one militant declared recently – and given its ‘big tent’ structure, in which anyone and everyone can bray as often and as loudly as they like, the PQ is particularly prone to nasty offshoots. P-I is running candidates in each of the upcoming by-elections. They will lose, badly, but their very presence on the ballot is an indication of the Marois malaise lying just beneath the surface.

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