Quebec Liberals won’t name new leader until spring 2025


DRUMMONDVILLE, Que. — The Quebec Liberals say they will not select a new leader until the spring of 2025, a decision that has split the party between backers of the only declared candidate and the rest of the general council.

Nicholas Plourde, who chairs the provincial Liberals’ executive council, said an earlier vote would be “premature” and stressed the opportunity for more candidates — “from different horizons, including from the outside if possible” — afforded by a longer timeline.

“Nobody wants this race to be a coronation. It would be the worst thing for our party,” Plourde told some 400 Liberals at a policy convention in Drummondville, Que., on Sunday.

“This race must be the occasion for several candidates to debate on the ground and to go meet the members.”

The eventual party chief will replace Dominique Anglade, who announced she was stepping down five weeks after the provincial election last year that returned Premier François Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec to the legislature with an even stronger majority.

Interim leader Marc Tanguay, who has ruled out running, says several people are interested, though only provincial lawmaker Frédéric Beauchemin has declared himself so far.

Tanguay decided to remove Beauchemin from the Liberal caucus earlier this month pending an inquiry into allegations of psychological harassment.

Over the weekend, Beauchemin’s backers pushed in vain for a shorter race.

“I want the date to be changed” to 2024, said supporter Denis Tremblay, calling at the microphone for a vote on the issue among the representatives present.

Tremblay said he was “very disappointed” with the timeline. 

“It’s not our decision,” he added, noting that the dates were selected by the party’s electoral committee and unanimously endorsed by the executive.

“The regions were not listened to, as usual. Inside the Liberal party, there is some confusion.”

The presentation of the campaign rules Sunday morning quickly morphed into a lively debate.

“I ask Mr. Beauchemin’s team for a little respect,” former minister and MP Lucie Charlebois told the gathering. “Let other candidates oppose him.

“Let’s mobilize. Let’s stop shooting ourselves in the foot, for once.”

Beauchemin has acknowledged Tanguay’s decision to remove him from caucus and said he remains committed to the party.

“I have no doubt that I will soon be reunited with my caucus colleagues at the end of the process that has already begun and in which I am co-operating fully,” he said in an Oct. 7 post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The Journal de Québec reported on Oct. 5 that the president of the party’s youth commission, Elyse Moisan, had filed a complaint against Beauchemin alleging she felt harassed, intimidated and threatened by his team.

Beauchemin denied the allegations in a post on X that same day and said he would collaborate with a pre-established process to shed light on situations subject to complaints.

On top of Beauchemin, federal Liberal MP Joël Lightbound has expressed interest in the provincial party’s top job.

Tanguay, who was named interim leader in November, said Sunday that “the phone is going to ring and the phone has already started to ring — and we have already started to see informal discussions.”

“They were waiting for the schedule,” he said of the would-be candidates.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 15, 2023.

Patrice Bergeron, The Canadian Press

The Canadian Press


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