Paul St-Pierre Plamondon elected as new Parti Quebecois leader

Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, a 43-year-old lawyer without a seat in Quebec's legislature, defeated the establishment candidate on the third round of voting Friday to become the new leader of the sovereigntist Parti Quebecois.

Plamondon, who didn't make it past the first ballot when he ran for party leader in 2016, beat PQ member Sylvain Gaudreault with 56 per cent of the vote.

The new PQ leader inherits a party with nine seats -- none of which represent a major urban centre.

It is currently fourth out of four parties in Quebec's 125-seat legislature. The once-mighty party that brought Quebec to within a few thousand votes of separating from Canada in 1995 is at one of the lowest points in its history.

But Plamondon spoke about none of those facts in his victory speech and instead promised the rebirth of the party.

"The dream is not over; it's about to be renewed," he said.

Plamondon, youngest of four leadership candidates, has been a party activist for years and was a special advisor to the last leader, Jean-Francois Lisee, ­who in 2018 led the PQ to its worst election result since the early '70s.

Speaking from the party's headquarters in Montreal, Plamondon said the PQ under his leadership will go on the offensive to fight what he called a British colonial regime that denies the interests of Quebecers.

"The PQ exists to give Quebecers their liberty," he said.

Friday's event was held mostly online and included video addresses by former party leaders, such as ex-premier Pauline Marois and Pierre Karl Peladeau, CEO of media and telecommunications company, Quebecor.

The new PQ leader takes over from Pascal Berube, member of a riding on the Gaspe peninsula, who had been acting as interim leader since the 2018 election.

Plamondon's other two adversaries were Guy Nantel, 52, a famous comedian in Quebec, who came in third; and Frederic Bastien, 51, a historian and junior college teacher in Montreal.

About 25,000 people, representing roughly 71 per cent of the party membership, cast a ballot.

- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 9, 2020.


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