Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press The interim leader of the Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ), Marc Tanguay, during the general council of his party, Saturday, in Drummondville. The race for the leadership of the PLQ will take place in the spring of 2025.
A dividing line between young — and not so young — activists emerged at the close of the general council of the Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ) on Sunday, when the holding of a leadership race in spring 2025 was confirmed by the party executive.
“Unfortunately, I feel like my voice isn’t being heard. In the next few years, could my voice be heard please? “, asked in particular Victoriane Laberge, an activist from Prévost who has been active in the ranks of the PLQ since she was 11 years old.
Like other young activists who spoke, Ms. Laberge wanted a race to be launched next year. Young people will have particular importance in the choice of the next Liberal leader, since their votes count for a third of the votes.
With its leadership race, the PLQ wants to “maximize the chances of having several candidates, from several different backgrounds and from outside if possible,” said Nicolas Plourde, member of the PLQ electoral committee, on Sunday, at the last day of the general council organized in Drummondville.
As expected, the initial deposit amount was reduced from $50,000 to $40,000 and the spending limit lowered from $500,000 to $400,000. Aspiring candidates will have to obtain the support of 750 members from 70 constituencies, in 12 regions of Quebec. Among the 750 members, 350 must be new members of the PLQ. The party now has “between 15 and 20,000 members,” said PLQ President Rafael P. Ferraro. This is a historic low for the Liberals.
“We want the candidates to be on the ground and recruit new members, liberals,” underlined Mr. Plourde. Above all, “no one wants this race to be a coronation, it would be the worst thing for our party,” he warned. Obviously, the Liberals want to avoid the scenario that led in 2020 to the coronation of their former leader, Dominique Anglade.
“The last race did not, unfortunately, have an upward effect for financing. On the contrary, the effect was downward,” Mr. Ferraro said. Alongside him, Mr. Plourde encouraged activists to “approach potential candidates and convince them to run.” “It’s your job and you have to do it,” he stressed.
No boss, but candidates
In the press scrum, MP André Fortin said he intended to work hard to find candidates for leadership. Rumors send Liberal to federal Joël Lightbound to the starting blocks. The PLQ has a clear identity and “does not need to model itself on anyone,” Mr. Fortin said of potential candidates from Ottawa. But “in the current situation, I don’t think we should do X on one application or another,” he added.
The deputy Monsef Derraji, who renounced the race for leadership, for his part suggested that he could be in the running if he judges that there are not enough aspirants for the position of head of the PLQ. “If there is only one candidate, we will see,” he said.
The former senator and editorialist at La Presse André Pratte, who co-chaired the committee on the relaunch of the PLQ, declared to Devoirthat he could be a candidate in the 2026 election. “I’m not there yet, because there are three years left before the election. I do not exclude it,” he said.
Antoine Dionne Charest, whose father Jean Charest led the party from 1998 to 2012, recalled that “one day”, he would like to “help” the PLQ. “I would like to run for the party,” he said. In his opinion, a late race will allow the PLQ to restructure before the arrival of a new leader. “You can’t ask a chef to start without putting water in the pool. Today we have just laid the foundations for the relaunch of the party,” he illustrated.
Mr. Pratt is also a supporter of a 2025 race, although he recognizes that there is a risk in this scenario: that of sinking into indifference while waiting for a new person to hold the rudder. Except that “doing something rushed and not having a really solid race is risky too. So between two risks, you choose the lesser,” he reasoned.
Ronald Poupart, a long-time PLQ activist, said he saw good political strategy in the choice of a late race. “Mr. Legault, his job will always be to identify the leader [of the PLQ] as a person not capable of doing the job. The more you delay [the arrival in office of a new leader], the more likely you are that it will not appear,” he told Devoir.
< p>In 1970, members of the National Union told him: “you are going to have a damned meal with your guy, who is an aunt,” he recalled. Robert Bourassa, appointed leader of the PLQ in January 1970, became prime minister three months later, in April.
Unanimous… or not
During of the weekend, the decision to hold a race in the spring of 2025, like the place that nationalism should take within the PLQ, caused a stir. The choice of a race in spring 2025 was unanimous among the party's senior leadership. The interim leader, Marc Tanguay, supported this scenario, as did, according to him, a “majority” of activists.
Unanimity was not, however, reflected in the statements of PLQ supporters. “Have you consulted young people? Because we have a third of the votes and I want to know if our votes counted in the process,” asked activist Zacharie Rivard. “[W]here we are today is not the position of the base in my opinion. […] Our associations, the [militant] bases are scrapped. There are several that don't work at all. The next leader will have a lot of work to do to rebuild all that” also launched Paul-Eugène Grenon, an activist from Saguenay — Lac-Saint-Jean.
At the microphone, some of the most critical young people were also supporters of Frédéric Beauchemin, the only candidate for the leadership at the moment. “I ask Mr. Beauchemin’s team for a little respect,” said former MP Lucie Charlebois. “Let’s mobilize, gang,” she also said. Like others, she said she was happy with the late race scenario chosen by the party.