QUEBEC – Premier Jean Charest described the Parti Quebecois on Thursday as being under the sway of political firebugs who have wrested control from party leader Pauline Marois.
“Pyromaniacs have taken control of the Parti Quebecois,” Charest said shortly after former PQ leader Bernard Landry gave his approval to comments by ex-PQ premier Jacques Parizeau that political crises would help the province attain sovereignty.
Marois, Charest said, “has lost control of her party.”
Charest and Marois sparred again in the legislature over Parizeau’s comments and the PQ leader said the premier has not been aggressive enough in seeking more powers from the federal government.
Marois has resisted calls by Charest to distance herself from Parizeau’s comments, acknowledging political spats between Ottawa and Quebec have prompted some people to take a closer look at sovereignty.
She has said she prefers good-faith negotiations with Ottawa and any political crises would likely be provoked by the federal government.
Parizeau mused to a pro-sovereignty group last Saturday about ways Quebec could become sovereign and paraphrased an aide who said the cause always needs a political crisis to push it along.
Parizeau weighed in as the PQ released a proposal to hold so-called “sectoral” referendums to get more powers from the federal government.
The PQ has suggested such referendums on power transfers as ways for the province to make gains in various areas including language, culture and communications.
Parizeau said political crises provoked by referendums on such hot-button issues could make people look favourably on the sovereigntist option.
Landry said Thursday he was pleased by the debate sparked by Parizeau’s foray.
“It’s very good,” he said. “It brings to the forefront the fundamental question of Quebec independence, which has not been settled and can only be settled when independence has been achieved,” he said in an interview.
Landry said he is also working on a position paper on how best to attain sovereignty but didn’t want to elaborate, saving his ideas for the future.
Landry said he expects many animated debates on sovereignty in the leadup to the next PQ policy convention in 2011.