PCQ Congress: Eric Duhaime’s leadership is questioned

Conservative leader Éric Duhaime is under pressure at his party conference, where several activists do not hide their dissatisfaction with his leadership style.

• Also read: Quebec Values: The PCQ wants to subject immigrants to psychometric testing before they are admitted

Éric Duhaime was visibly nervous before speaking to conservative activists gathered at a conference in Lévis this weekend. In particular, he must undergo a confidence vote on Sunday. According to our information, those around him expect a value “between 75% and 85%” from him.

Greeted with polite applause that had nothing to do with the ovation he received on the campaign trail last year, the Conservative leader gave a speech in which he tried to establish his credibility.

In particular, he insisted on his proposal to remove the reference “Équipe Éric Duhaime” from the party’s official name. “The party must send a signal at the end of the week that the PCQ is not the party of Éric Duhaime, but the party of the members,” he said. The proposal was adopted with the support of 98% of members.

In doing so, he responded to criticism that many conservative activists have in their mouths. “Eric runs the party alone from his cell phone… I’m sorry, can we question the members?” confided in the corridors a very popular figure within the PCQ, the former candidate in Beauce-Sud, Jonathan Poulin. “The CAQ has been criticized as a one-man party. We shouldn’t do the same thing.”

“A party must always be stronger than its leader,” said former Bellechasse candidate Michel Tardif, who lamented that the PCQ lost 40,000 members last year. “They didn’t renew their card. Now is the time to focus on building a base for the party,” he said.

In his speech, Éric Duhaime also reminded members of the progress the party has made under his leadership. “I ask you not to lose sight of the path we have taken,” he said.

He also argued that the work done since the last election was “more phenomenal” than her rise in the polls in the months leading up to the election. “We went back up the stairs […]and the Conservatives came home,” he said, after acknowledging that several people were “disinfected,” disappointed that the party had failed to elect an MP.

Finally, the conservative leader tried to galvanize his activists by throwing points at François Legault, a prime minister who he said is “tired and exhausted and no longer knows where to lead his troops.”

A few moments earlier, Éric Duhaime assured that he intends to remain at the head of his political party, even if his name no longer appears in the party’s official name. But when asked whether he would remain in office if he was shown the door in the confidence vote, he simply replied: “I will let the members vote.”

Duhaime is worried about the presidential election

The vote of confidence is not Mr. Duhaime’s only concern at this party conference, as many members see the party leadership race as an opportunity to send a message to the leader.

“Éric Duhaime is a free electron at the moment. He built the party quickly, but now it is time to provide a more solid base,” said an activist, Maxime Drolet, who is part of candidate Chantal Dauphinais’ team.

“Éric called me because he thought that a vote for Chantal was a vote against him,” says Michel Tardif. “It’s not a vote against him, but I would rather have two people at the top of the party who have the same goal but don’t necessarily agree on the means by which to achieve it.”

Another presidential candidate, Mark Buzan, suggests putting the party on better footing by encouraging greater cooperation with federal conservatives. “They look at us at the moment and are not always sure whether we are serious,” he complained.

For her part, the final candidate, Grace Daou, was content to say that we need to “refine the structure of the party” when we questioned her in the hallways.

The confidence vote and presidential election were originally scheduled to take place over two days, but members took to the microphone to express concern that the integrity of the ballot boxes could be compromised overnight. The party has therefore changed its voting rules accordingly.

A few suggestions

During the day on Saturday, the topic of democracy occupied an important place in the debates. After lengthy discussions, the conservatives spoke out in particular in favor of a proportional representation system and popular initiatives.

They also decided that a Conservative government would ban the publication of polls during elections and gradually cut subsidies and aid to businesses.

Andrea Hunt

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