Pierre Curzi, Forrmer PQ Member, Could Seek Party Leadership
QUEBEC - Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois has insisted she's not going anywhere but a former member of her caucus said Friday he's ready to replace her if she does.
"If there is a leadership race, I will be a candidate," said Pierre Curzi, who was among a trio of high-profile Pequistes to quit the caucus in June over Marois' go-slow approach to sovereignty.
Marois has been trying to contain a crisis in the PQ all summer.
The party has slid to third place in opinion polls behind Premier Jean Charest's Liberals and a right-leaning coalition led by ex-PQ minister Francois Legault that isn't even a political party yet.
And the PQ has not been immune to a ripple effect stemming from Quebecers turfing the sovereigntist Bloc Quebecois en masse in favour of the NDP in the May federal election. That left the Bloc with a mere four seats in Parliament.
Five members quit the PQ caucus during the summer, including Curzi, former cabinet minister Louise Beaudoin and Lisette Lapointe, wife of former premier and PQ icon Jacques Parizeau.
The sovereigntist movement has also begun to fragment into smaller groups with a citizens' coalition for sovereignty drawing about 400 people to its founding meeting last weekend.
And there has been resounding complaining about Marois' approach to sovereignty despite the 93 per cent approval rating she received in a leadership vote last spring.
Marois says a PQ government should only hold a third independence referendum when conditions are right. Hardline sovereigntists want a stronger commitment.
Sovereigntists lost two other referendums, in 1980 and 1995.
Curzi, who was the party's point man on language, is probably best known in English Canada for his work as an actor in such films as "The Decline of the American Empire" and "The Barbarian Invasions."
He has been touted as a potential leader, as has Bernard Drainville, who published a manifesto Thursday which called for change within the PQ and warned it was teetering on the edge of a political abyss.
Curzi said a regularly scheduled PQ caucus meeting next Wednesday and Thursday in Saguenay will be "decisive" for Marois.
He did not reject the idea that some caucus members might attempt a coup and ask her to step aside for the good of the party and sovereignty.
"It's clear that questions are being asked" within caucus, Curzi said. "It's clear there are concerns."
That sentiment was present before the departures this summer, and Curzi said the growing popularity of Legault's option is making PQ members nervous.
Marois said in a radio interview earlier this week she would resist any attempts to push her from the job she finally got on her third try at the leadership, in 2007.