Quebec comedian Guy Nantel joins PQ leadership race

Quebec comedian Guy Nantel speaks to the media after announcing his candidacy for the leadership of the Parti Quebecois Thursday, February 13, 2020 in Montreal. Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Comedian Guy Nantel is officially throwing his hat into the leadership race for the Parti Québécois (PQ).

The 51-year-old made the announcement on Thursday, saying he made the decision to run for the top job following a long period of reflection. The jump into politics also means he will put his comedic career on hold for now.

“My life is moving on to its next stage,” he told reporters.

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The PQ is searching for a new leader to succeed Jean-François Lisée, who stepped down after the party — which was once a powerhouse of the sovereignty movement — lost a lot of ground in the 2018 provincial election.

After cracking a few jokes, Nantel adopted a serious tone and said he believes it is time for the PQ to undergo some changes.

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“It’s clear this is a delight for me, but the reason why I’m joining this adventure is I believe the party needs to be restructured,” he said.

Quebec is “due” for a collective purpose that will allow everyone to flourish and society to be a little more functional, he added.

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Nantel is the fourth contender to join the PQ leadership race. Lawyer Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, Jonquière MNA Sylvain Gaudreault and historian Frédéric Bastien have also announced their candidacies.

The leadership hopefuls are expected to participate in debates during the spring, but the dates have not yet been announced.

A new leader is expected to be chosen in June during a rally in Quebec City or Chaudière-Appalaches.

— With files from the Canadian Press