Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The ADQ Self-Destructs

Gilles Taillon, leader of the Action démocratique du Québec, has announced he will be stepping down as leader. This is only the latest in a series of missteps and mistakes that have brought the once fledgling provincial party to the brink of destruction.

A brief run down. In 2007, Mario Dumont's ADQ won 41 seats and became the official opposition, only a handful of MNAs away from forming government. Over the next year, Dumont mishandled several issues and the inexperience of his new MNAs became clear. In the 2008 election, the party dropped to 16% and 7 seats, and Mario Dumont announced he would be stepping down as leader.

A leadership race was then called, with Gilles Taillon (who did not win in his riding) and Éric Caire (who did) becoming the clear front-runners. The leadership race was ugly, with each side seemingly forgetting that they'd have to work together if either of them had won.

Gilles Taillon then won the race, which was held only a few weeks ago, by two votes. The turnout of the telephone voting was very low, and in the end it was learned that Infoman (a Quebec comedian) had gotten an ADQ membership under the name of Omar Bongo and cast his vote for Taillon. That brought his true win down to one vote.

Then, after being snubbed by Taillon, Caire and his friend Marc Picard left the party to sit as independents in the National Assembly. That brought the ADQ caucus from 6 to 4 MNAs. A few days later, the president of the party (responsible for the non-partisan running of the leadership race) stepped down when it was learned he had donated to Taillon's leadership campaign.

To add insult to injury, Janvier Grondin, long-time ADQ MNA and 11th-hour supporter of Taillon, as come out to say that he regrets having thrown his support behind Taillon.

Now, Taillon has stepped down as leader, seemingly at the request of his caucus. The leadership race divided the party in two, and now the half that supported Taillon is divided as well. He has said he will stay on as leader until a new one is found, but that poses a few problems. The party can't afford a leadership race, and Caire has said he wouldn't run to lead the party. There are few potential replacements, and the most likely replacement, MNA Gerard Deltell, has been making nice with the provincial Liberals and even attended an event with Jean Charest.

Lastly, Taillon threw out the bombshell that he has found irregularities in the party's finances dating back to 2003, which he will look into. The Liberals and PQ are starting to circle the two new independents and the 4 ADQ MNAs to see if they won't come over to their sides. Recent polls put the party at around 6% to 8%, tied with the Parti Vert and Quebec Solidaire.

The Conservatives were smart enough to jump ship not too long ago, and have since reconciled with the provincial Liberals under Charest. This is good news for them, as had Harper tied his Quebec star too tightly to Mario Dumont and the ADQ, he wouldn't have won the Bas-St-Laurent by-election last night.