04/10/2014 03:46 EDT | Updated 06/10/2014 05:59 EDT

Pierre Karl Peladeau Rebuffs PQ Leadership Rumours

QUEBEC - Pierre Karl Peladeau, who is blamed in some quarters for derailing the Parti Quebecois election campaign, says it's too early to talk about whether he will seek the permanent leadership of the sovereigntist party.

Peladeau, a media mogul who was recruited as a star PQ candidate, says the party has a lot of work and reflecting to do in the next few months after its crushing election defeat this week.

The Quebecor (TSX:QBR.B) tycoon made the comments Thursday as he entered a PQ caucus meeting where Stephane Bedard, considered an ally of Peladeau, was eventually chosen interim PQ leader.

"We have a lot of work to do on the ground," Peladeau said, adding the PQ has four years until the next election.

Asked if that includes examining the viability of the sovereignty option, Peladeau said: "There are questions that will have to be asked."

Pauline Marois announced after Monday's election she would step down as PQ leader.

Peladeau declined to comment Thursday about any interest he might have in her job.

"It's too early to talk about that," he said, although he added in response to another question, "I am a sovereigntist and I am committed to the Parti Quebecois."

The party won only 30 seats in the 125-member legislature and captured just 25 per cent of the popular vote.

Raymond Archambault, president of the PQ's executive council, said there is no rush to hold a leadership race right away."

"There's no urgency," Archambault said as he strode past reporters and was peppered with questions about a leadership campaign timetable.

Potential candidates for the top job include Peladeau and former cabinet ministers Jean-Francois Lisee, Bernard Drainville and Sylvain Gaudreault.

Gaudreault and former health minister Rejean Hebert did not reject the idea when reporters asked them Thursday if they were interested in the leadership.

Peladeau is seen as a polarizing figure and his enthusiastic embracing of sovereignty at his March 9 campaign launch is cited by many as the biggest reason the PQ campaign went off the rails and never recovered.

Many of the dejected-looking Pequistes were reluctant to go into a deep analysis of the election outcome, which saw Philippe Couillard's Liberals win 70 seats to form a majority government.

But some complained the campaign had been turned into a referendum on a future sovereignty plebiscite that Marois insisted wasn't in the cards.

Others blamed the media.

Hebert said the days after the election are too emotional to offer an objective analysis of the campaign.

Francois Legault, whose Coalition for Quebec's Future party won 22 seats, reached out to PQ members at his own party caucus meeting in Drummondville on Thursday.

He invited PQ members to join the Coalition because he said their party is in a dead end with its emphasis on sovereignty. Legault said the Coalition is an example of modern nationalism.

— By Nelson Wyatt in Montreal

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