Popularity versus notoriety in Quebec.

In a news conference the other day, Quebec Premier Pauline Marois was accompanied by her star candidate Pierre Karl Péladeau. She was quoted as saying to the news media that nobody is perfect. Those are likely to be the definitive words of the current Quebec election campaign—along with the visual of her pushing Péladeau away from the microphone earlier in the campaign.

Halfway through her attempt to win a majority government, Premier Marois is already eating crow. She made the point by bringing the crow with her in the form of her Saint-Jérȏme candidate. What she was apologizing for was the use of a picture of Justice France Charbonneau in promoting her party but after her poor showing in the leaders’debate the night before Marois also needed to apologize for that.

But her biggest problem is Pierre Karl Péladeau’s bringing a sovereignty referendum to the fore instead of appearing to be the financial stability that Quebec needs. What caused the problem was Péladeau being himself. Trying to position him as a successful businessman is ignoring the fact that he inherited his late father’s business empire. His stewardship of that wealth has been tumultuous, marked by the failure of Quebecor World, heavy losses in his nascent English-language TV network and worsening labour relations. And Pauline Marois thinks this guy’s business acumen can help her party?

Péladeau was like a little boy with a new toy when Marois announced his candidacy and his fist-pumping declaration for sovereignty was the beginning of the end for Marois’ electoral hopes. “A referendum if necessary but not necessarily a referendum” is not going to fly with the voters in English or French.

It is something of a surprise that Marois does not understand the difference between popularity and notoriety. Péladeau has certainly been notorious in Quebec for some time. Whether you approve or disapprove of his choice of bed mates, there are still a few cantankerous older Quebecers who believe the sanctity of marriage is important for the children. There are even more Quebecers who understand that successful negotiations between labour and management require an open and honest approach. And that does not appear to be the Péladeau approach. Pierre Karl Péladeau might have lots of notoriety in Quebec but he does not seem to have the popularity that Pauline Marois is looking for.

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Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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