PQ to welcome back Pierre Nantel, who lost 2012 election to Bouchard

Former Parti Québécois finance critic Pierre Nantel is expected to announce on Monday that he is running as a candidate for the PQ in the Quebec election campaign in the riding of Gaspésie-Labelle.

A longtime PQ cabinet minister, Nantel was defeated in 2012 by the current Gaspésie-Labelle riding minister, Lucien Bouchard. He stepped down as finance minister during the 2012 campaign.

Nantel said in a statement on Monday that he would be announcing on Monday morning that he will seek the Gaspésie-Labelle candidacy and that he looks forward to helping “all Quebecers – the workers, retirees, farmers, students, immigrants and francophones and French-speaking Quebeckers – to secure a decent future”.

Nantel, who served as finance minister under Bernard Landry, the education minister in the Meech Lake Accord government, is also serving as a parliamentary secretary to the immigration minister.

His candidacy comes at a time when the PQ appears to be attracting fresh talent to its ranks.

According to the polling firm CROP, Michel Leblanc, a physician who just returned to Quebec from the United States, is running for the PQ in the riding of Centretown-Ste-Catherine. Leblanc is the former editor of La Presse, but resigned from the paper when he was elected a member of the provincial legislature. He holds a number of PhDs.

Bill 162, the PQ’s proposed Charter of Values, was defeated in the legislature last December, but the PQ is keen to relaunch the issue before the election, expected to be held in early September.

“Toward the end of last year, the values charter didn’t get very much traction,” said Stephane Pétras, of CROP. “But if you ask Quebeckers what they want, it is right there on the top.

“It won’t be easy for the PQ because it’s not up to a minority government to authorise this. It would need a majority, which will be difficult. But if the PQ manages to get its finger on the pulse of Quebeckers and open up a debate, it’s in trouble.”

“The PQ is increasingly attractive because it isn’t just against the [Charter of Values], but presents a coherent path to restoring the pre-Charter of Values status quo in Quebec and balancing our country,” says Douglas Fraser, head of the Gaspésie-Labelle PQ riding association.

In the first three days of the campaign, the Charest Liberals have focused their attention in the province’s most populous riding, riding of Outremont, where Thomas Mulcair, the leader of the NDP, and its newly elected MP, Alexandre Boulerice, live.

“We are watching the Québec debates and the awareness of the Québec debate grows and grows,” said Christine Turgeon, a spokesperson for the Liberal candidate, Ugo Lapointe.

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