Pierre Karl Peladeau gestures during a press conference in Saint Jerome, Que., Sunday, March 9, 2014, announcing him as a Parti Quebecois candidate for that riding on day five of the Quebec provincial election campaign Graham Hughes/Canadian Press
Media mogul Pierre Karl Péladeau will run as the Parti Québécois candidate in the riding of Saint-Jérôme.
PQ leader Pauline Marois confirmed Péladeau’s candidacy at a news conference Sunday morning.
The move reverses Péladeau’s earlier assertions that he would not run for public office.
Péladeau is one of Quebec’s most prominent business leaders, having occupied positions including President and CEO of Videotron and CEO of Quebecor, the company founded by his father, Pierre Péladeau.
He announced Sunday that he had resigned his various board of director positions at Quebecor and Hydro-Quebec. He was appointed to the latter position in April 2013 by the PQ government.
He also pledged that the various media organizations owned by Quebecor would maintain their editorial independence.
As to his financial assets, Péladeau said they would be placed in a blind trust. He will remain a shareholder in Quebecor.
Marois' announcement played up Péladeau's track record as one of Quebec's most powerful businessmen.
"Pierre Karl Péladeau embodies the spirit of business, the desire to build and innovate and succeed that characterizes our entrepreneurs, generation after generation," she said.
Marois also welcomed Péladeau's commitment to building an independent Quebec.
Péladeau said it was matter of "immense pride" to join the ranks of the PQ.
"My connection to the PQ is a connection rooted in my deepest, most intimate values, and that is making Quebec a country," he said.
FTQ not impressed
Péladeau will likely be a controversial choice among the PQ's left-leaning supporters considering his role in lengthy lockouts at two Quebecor newspapers, Le Journal de Montréal and Le Journal de Québec.
His candidacy was roundly condemned Sunday by the FTQ, Quebec's largest union, as a "catastrophe" for working men and women in Quebec.
"He is probably one of the worst employers that Quebec has ever known," the FTQ said in a news release, citing Péladeau's history of lockouts.
PQ opponents react
The riding of Saint-Jérôme was won in 2012 by Coalition Avenir Québec candidate Jacques Duchesneau, who is not running for office in the April 7 election.
CAQ leader Francois Legault, who began his political career with the PQ, said Péladeau runs the risk of being “disappointed” with his chosen party. Legault had tried to recruit Péladeau to run as the CAQ candidate for Saint-Jérôme.
“When I went to the Parti Québécois, I told myself that we were going to revitalize Quebec, that we would limit the power of the union lobby and reduce expenses. And I was disappointed. I came to the conclusion that with the PQ, all public finance and economic reforms are held hostage by one subject: a referendum on sovereignty,” he said.
Legault said Péladeau’s economic vision contradicts that of the PQ. Noting the increases in daycare fees, hydro rates and the expected deficit outlined in the PQ budget, Legault asked if that was Péladeau’s idea of economic reform.
At a news conference in the riding of Roberval, Liberal leader Philippe Couillard said he welcomed Péladeau’s decision to run for public office, but it did not reflect any significant change in the PQ’s priorities.
“People are tired of referendums and division,” Couillard said.
Québec Solidaire's Françoise David had harsh words for the PQ and its decision to enlist Péladeau. Noting the PQ's recent efforts to solicit the progressive vote from her party and to recruit Québec Solidaire's existing MNAs, David said the PQ's recruitment of Péladeau sends the wrong message.
"Never, never, will a Quebec Solidaire MNA sit next to Pierre Karl Péladeau [in the national assembly]," she said to applause from her audience.