January 20, 2016 8:10 pm
Updated: January 21, 2016 11:59 am

Parti Québécois kicks off caucus meeting with talks of sovereignty

WATCH ABOVE: Parti Québécois leader Pierre Karl Péladeau dodged questions about his new sovereigntist think tank at the party's caucus meeting in Saguenay. Global's Raquel Fletcher reports.


SAGUENAY – The Parti Québécois (PQ) began its caucus meeting Wednesday morning with a minute of silence to honour the seven Quebec victims of terrorist attacks in Jakarta, Indonesia and Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

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The annual retreat began Tuesday evening in Saguenay where the PQ held a town-hall-style meeting for party members and residents.

Leader Pierre Karl Péladeau elaborated on his plan for Quebec sovereignty but focused on the economy – particularly the lack of high-paying jobs.

“People lose their jobs, so we try to force the government to be active in the economic sector,” said Agnès Maltais, MNA for Taschereau.

PQ members showed a united front, denying any rumour of dissension among the ranks since they chose the Quebecor media mogul as their leader.

The sentiment was reinforced with the appearance of a familiar face: former interim leader Stéphane Bédard, who resigned in October after 17 years as an MNA.

He came to show support for the party.

“No one is irreplaceable and the people who’ve come [into the PQ] have good convictions,” Bédard said.

He was presumably also speaking of Péladeau, who was reticent to answer questions about the million-dollar donation he promised to make to his brainchild, a research institute on Quebec independence.

“We don’t have 10 billionaires who are for independence in Quebec. We have one that’s very well known,” Rosemont MNA Jean-Francois Lisee said.

It was clear the MNAs preferred to keep the discussion focused on other issues.

“The Liberal party is of incompetence regarding the economic development. What we’re hearing, what we’re listening is unfortunately, we’re going in the wrong direction,” Peladeau said.

The Liberal party promised 250,000 jobs – something Peladeau insisted has not yet happened.

It’s an important issue for the PQ, something they’ll address again when the new legislative session begins in February and before voters in Chicoutimi head to the polls in a byelection that could happen by April.

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