Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Who are the next leaders? Bloc edition

It's been awhile since I last took a look at the leadership of any party, given that the summer seems to have just been so nice to everyone (well, not everyone).

To get everyone up-to-speed, as a spin-off thought of the leadership questions surrounding the Green Party and Elizabeth May, questions now moot due to avoiding a leadership race, debate, or review. So I thought I'd go over some of the possible leadership contenders in each party, assuming the current leader stepped down or something. I've already done so for both the NDP and the Conservatives - now it's time to take a crack at the rubix cube that is the Bloc Québécois.

Gilles Duceppe has been the leader of the Bloc for nearly 15 years now, has been in Parliament for two decades, and has suffered from ups, downs, record-highs, and record-lows. Through it all, he's lead the separatist party from Quebec, and managed to keep it a stable, and fairly permanent force, on the Canadian political scene.

But, good things must come to an end, eventually. So, here are the people I consider in the running as the next leader of the Bloc Québécois:

Daniel Paillé

Elected in one of the September 2009 by-elections as the MP for the riding of Hochelaga, vacated by another former leadership hopeful, Réal Ménard, Paillé has risen quickly through the ranks of the Bloc, becoming its Finance spokesperson upon his ascension to Parliament.

Paillé does have an impressive pedigree, and can stand his ground in the battlefield that is the House of Commons. So he does appear to be qualified as a viable contender for the leadership, and would probably connect well with Quebecers.

But, the question is whether or not the Bloc would choose him as leader. Paillé is a very urban, Montréal type of person, perfect for his choice of riding. When Duceppe, another Montréaler, first became leader, a problem with him with voters, and the Bloc lost quite a bit of support, outside of Montréal. Though saved eventually by Martin and the sponsorship scandal, would the Bloc take a risk on another urban Montréaler again?

Pierre Paquette

Paquette is the Bloc's House Leader, and according to a Wikipedia source I now can't access, a former leadership contender back when Duceppe decided that he wanted to run the Parti Québécois for a whole day. He's been in Parliament since the 2000 election, representing the district of Joliette. He's been a common face on the Hill, and seems to get along fine with the other House leaders.

But other than that, there isn't much to say about M. Paquette. He hasn't held many critic positions, and though he represents a safe rural riding, I have little idea what his politics actually are. Is he left, right, centrist, racist, Islamic, what? I have little clue, and if someone wants to fill in the gaps, be my guest.

But either way, M. Paquette could make a good run for the leadership against other contenders. He's no newbie like Paillé, and given his tenure as House leader, knows what it takes to handle and represent the many faces of the Bloc Québécois. If he's serious about being Bloc leader, I think he's got what it takes.

Serge Ménard

Serge Ménard isn't someone who you'd necessarily hear often in the media, but as MP for Marc-Aurele-Fortin, a former Cabinet minister in the provincial governments of Jacques Parizeau, Lucien Bouchard, and Bernard Landry, sitting as Minister for Public Safety, Minister of State for the Greater Montréal region, and Attorney General, he has clear and viable experience that could come in handy for the Bloc Québécois.

Though I couldn't find anything exclaiming his interest in becoming leader, I include Ménard simply because he is one of the most experienced MPs in the Bloc's caucus. He is also a consistent and noticeable face on the House and during Question Period, on committees, and etc. He has the wit and the experience to lead the Bloc, and with a suburban seat in the Montréal area, he represents a large segment of Quebec's population that, with continued onslaughts from both the Liberals and the Conservatives, needs a guiding hand.

And, at this point, I don't really know who else to put. The problem I have is that, as an anglophone Ontarian, I'm not really knowledgeable on the detailed ins-and-outs of Quebec politics, though trust me, I try. I picked out who I thought had the experience and profile to be leader, and given that Francine LaLonde, a former leadership contender, will no longer be running, I couldn't give as-concrete an example I wish I could.

But, for now, these are my picks - if you have your own, don't hesitate to speak up.

Next time - Liberals!!


  1. The next Bloc leader will probably be the last leader, that's all that matters. Duceppe is the raison d'être of the party, not sovereignty. The Bloc has become separatist Liberals without the separatism, which makes our lives here difficult...

  2. I dunno, William (I assume William of Compton--Stanstead, no?). The Bloc has staying power so long as the Liberals maintain this reputation of corruption and slight arrogance, not being helped by the PLQ. I think once the PQ provincially comes into power next - and they will - that the situation will reverse and so will our fortunes in the province, and then we can strike a few blows to the Bloc's structure, but for now, even if Duceppe leaves tomorrow, they're here to stay.

  3. Yes on the CS. You don't see it from outside of the province much, but those that vote Bloc vote for Duceppe (you should see the riff-raff they have on the ballot in most ridings). They don't vote sovereignty (it's at 30% or so), and their platform is generally big-L-iberal.

    Unfortunately (or fortunately?) I joined the Libs in 06 and thus am part of the rebuilding process. It's long and hard...and I hate paying for the errors of predecessors.

  4. I hear you on that. I joined in '08 and I still hear complaints about the past.

  5. Riff-raff? Oh, my. Pass the Grey Poupon, old chap.