Parti Québécois leader steps down

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Picture of André Boisclair supporters at the exit of the Quebec City public debate, during the Parti Québécois leadership race of 2005.
Credit: Benoît Rheault

André Boisclair announced his resignation today as leader of the Parti Québécois (PQ), the same day the National Assembly of Quebec was resuming sitting after the recent general election. He said he would stay as an MNA for his riding of Pointe-aux-Trembles in Montreal, Quebec. An interim leader has yet to be named.

"I want to thank from the bottom of my heart everyone who has supported me up until now," he said. "I will no longer lead the Parti Quebecois. I was honored to represent the Parti Quebecois's members."

His party finished third in the 2007 Quebec general election winning 36 seats in the province sparking rumours of a Confidence Motion reviewing his leadership. His resignation also follows last Friday's Radio-Canada broadcast talking of rumours of federal Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe interested in leading the Parti Québécois, if Boisclair stepped down or a Confidence Motion was proposed. Both parties share the some ideology aimed at separating Quebec from Canada.

Speaking outside the House of Commons Tuesday, Duceppe remained coy about his own plans. "We are here to pay homage to Andre Boisclair. It is not for me to make a decision," said Duceppe. "He made a noble decision in the best interests of the sovereigntist movement," continued Duceppe, in reference to Boisclair's resignation.

Boisclair, 41, started his career when, just at 23, represented the Quebec riding of Gouin with the Parti Québécois in 1984, becoming the youngest member ever elected to the Quebec National Assembly. He later became a cabinet minister twice; from 1996 to 2001 under PQ premier Lucien Bouchard and again from 2001 to 2003 PQ premier Bernard Landry. He resigned in August 2004 in order to attend Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, attending speeches by Michael Ignatieff. On the 2005 Parti Québécois leadership election Boisclair became the sixth leader of the party.

He admitted to using cocaine during his time in the legislature. Boisclair is also the first openly gay political leader in Quebec.