Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Peladeau Promises Push for Independence as He Becomes PQ Leader

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Peladeau Promises Push for Independence as He Becomes PQ Leader

Article excerpt

New PQ leader Peladeau pushes independence

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QUEBEC - Media mogul Pierre Karl Peladeau strolled to the leadership of the Parti Quebecois on Friday and immediately reiterated that he will settle for nothing less in the future than an independent Quebec.

"You have given me a strong and clear mandate -- to make Quebec a country," he said to rapturous applause after he had been declared the winner.

Earlier, before the vote results were announced, Peladeau said much the same to the crowd.

"I have met, seen, heard and listened to men and women who believe, more than ever, that Quebec must become a country," he said.

"And that is great because I think the same thing."

Peladeau, 53, won 57.6 per cent of the vote, compared with 29.2 per cent for Alexandre Cloutier and 13.2 per cent for Martine Ouellet.

The winner required at least 50 per cent.

Peladeau's lofty objective of nationhood will have to wait at least for more than three years because the next election will be held only in the fall of 2018.

Despite his repeated pro-independence proclamations, Peladeau's stance on a sovereignty referendum is that he will wait to see what happens in the next election before deciding whether to hold one.

While much can change in three years, Peladeau looks as though he is facing a tough task on the referendum front. Opinion polls have consistently suggested that a majority of Quebecers are not interested in a third plebiscite, after those in 1980 and 1995.

Peladeau acknowledged that a lot of work lies ahead as he appealed to pro-nationalist forces to rally around one another.

"It is in all our interests to place the superior interest of Quebec above our personal ambitions," he said.

"The great coalition for independence must be reborn.

"I would like to tell the hundreds, the thousands of sovereigntists and nationalists who have left our party that all the projects of society will be possible once we have only one state and we are entirely masters of our destiny."

Of much interest will be Peladeau's reaction to being in the public eye on a constant basis.

His critics and political opponents say he is divisive, anti-union and too short-tempered to handle the frustrations and nuances of political life. …

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