03/25/2015 02:23 EDT | Updated 05/25/2015 05:59 EDT

Peladeau hires ex-Hydro spokesman as his communications director

QUEBEC - Parti Quebecois leadership candidate Pierre Karl Peladeau's new communications director is the man who was Hydro-Quebec's main public-relations spokesman during the province's 1998 ice storm.

Steve Flanagan describes himself as a specialist in crisis management and in communications.

Flanagan was a fixture on television 17 years ago as Hydro-Quebec battled to restore power to millions of people after the deadly ice storm.

His appointment comes a week after Peladeau landed in hot water for stating that immigration was hurting the sovereignty movement.

Peladeau, who apologized a day later, said in Quebec City today he doesn't believe his campaign has been in crisis.

The controlling shareholder of Quebecor Inc. (TSX:QBR.B) is the perceived front-runner in the PQ race, which will culminate with a successor to Pauline Marois being elected in May.

His opponents are Pierre Cere and former cabinet ministers Alexandre Cloutier, Bernard Drainville and Martine Ouellet.