MONTREAL — Jean-Francois Lisee’s tenure as leader of the Parti Quebecois will be put to the test Saturday when members of the sovereigntist party hold a confidence vote on his stewardship.
Lisee has steadfastly refused to specify a minimum percentage he would find acceptable to stay on.
In 2005, Bernard Landry stepped down as PQ leader after getting just 76 per cent support.
While Lisee will obviously be hoping for a better score than that, the fact a provincial election is to be held in just over a year would suggest the PQ is not in a position to switch leaders yet again.
The party executive even considered at one point the possibility of not holding Saturday’s vote, given that Lisee has been in the job for less than a year since replacing Pierre Karl Peladeau.
But it decided to proceed as per party statutes.
“There is no magic number,” PQ president Gabrielle Lemieux said, referring to the percentage level Lisee needs to reach.
Other PQ leadership confidence votes included Pauline Marois receiving 93 per cent support in 2011 and Jacques Parizeau 92 per cent in 1991.
Saturday’s results are to be made public late in the afternoon or early evening.
Lisee will be hoping to cement his sovereigntist credentials with party hardliners who may be upset with his decision to forgo any independence referendum in a first Parti Quebecois mandate if he wins next year’s election.
That means there would be no referendum until at least the second PQ mandate, which would begin in 2022 if the party also wins that year’s election.
The PQ has been struggling in recent opinion polls and, given the margins of error in the surveys, is locked in a battle with the Coalition for Quebec’s Future for second place behind the front-running Liberals.
The weekend PQ convention will also see delegates debate the every-thorny language issue. This time, the discussions will focus on access to English-language junior colleges.
Under Bill 101, francophones cannot receive English schooling at the elementary or secondary level but are allowed to attend English college.
Lisee’s opposition to extending Bill 101 to colleges is at odds with the position of some language hardliners but a compromise is in the works to reduce funding to the English college system.