ADQ: Big Tent or Gong Show?

Not too long ago, one half of Deux Maudits Anglais interviewed Action Democratique du Québec interim president Mario Charpentier. He was a nice enough fellow, aware of his party’s difficulties, which are many and legion, yet imbibed with a jarring optimistic streak that seems only to strike politicians and missionaries. Things we looking up for the ADQ, he said. The party was no longer shackled with the weight of high expectations; its core group of ground workers who made up the party’s vote-harvesting machine, so effective in the 2007 election, were showing signs of a return to the ADQ bosom; and, after years of Mario Dumont’s ambiguity on the constitutional file, Charpentier came out and said the ADQ was going unabashedly federalist. Charpentier himself was able to say the dreaded ‘C’ word without retching–with a certain pride, even. “I don’t know we need to be ashamed of the word,” he said of ‘Canada.’ 

Raymond Bréard might not be ashamed of the word but, as former Director-General of the PQ, as well as a close friend and former advisor to péquiste Premier Bernard Landry, he doesn’t have much time for it. Odd, then, that Mr. Bréard has returned to politics as an advisor to ADQ leadership hopeful Christian Lévesque. Bréard has already raised the ire of adéquistes–though mostly because of his involvement in a lobbying scandal some years ago, and not because he’s a nasty separatissssste. “As far as image is concerned, it might hurt a little bit,” said Lévesque’s opponent, Éric Caire. (Caire would be a hypocrite if he attacked Bréard’s PQ background. As La Presse‘s Tommy Chouinard helpfully points out, Caire himself employs a former bloquiste on his campaign team.)

 A Mari usque ad Mare this isn’t. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course: a large chunk of Quebec’s voting public has long had its foot out the door, and it only natural to have this reflected throughout the political class. What it suggests, though, is that the ADQ will continue to be as ambiguous as it has always been, despite the wishes of Charpentier’s red-and-white ilk. It also suggests a crise de coeur within the party at some point as the two sides engage in an inevitably long, drawn out hissy fit. Kind of like Quebec as a whole, come to think of it.

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