|Mayor Regis Lebeaume in search of a private law.|
It's a complicated affair and I'm sure most readers (especially those out of province) haven't wasted the necessary time to be fully apprised of this sordid affair.
Let me try to give you a Twitter version of events. (In my day we used to call a quick summary of a complicated issue, a 'Readers' Digest version, but we must keep up with the times!)
The Mayor of Quebec City, Regis Lebeaume, was convinced by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman that in order to secure an NHL franchise, Quebec needed to build a new arena. Lebeaume quickly put together an arena package, pledged $50 million from his own Quebec City and got a commitment from the provincial government to contribute another $100 million towards the $400 million dollar price tag. He then tried to shakedown the federal government for another $100 million but was unsuccessful.
In order to keep the project going, the mayor made an un-tendered, under-the-table deal with media scion Pierre-Karl Péladeau to fund the balance by granting Quebecor (Péladeau's company) management of the building and the city's support in his bid to own the potential NHL team.
This didn't sit well with an ex-city official who said that he'd challenge the deal in court because it didn't follow tendering procedures. Lebeaume, fearing that the deal couldn't stand a legal challenge, asked a PQ member of the National Assembly to put forward a private members bill that would shield the city from legal proceedings.
The proposed bill needed unanimous house consent just to be heard, but after some grumbling by the ADQ and Amir Khadir, all members agreed to hear the bill.
As the Bill heads for debate the PQ and the Liberals have indicated that they will vote for it, thus assuring its passage, but many members on both sides of the house have expressed misgivings at the anti-democratic nature of the proposed law.
Monday morning all hell broke loose as three highly placed (and radical) PQ members left the party to sit as independents, with another one joining their ranks yesterday, rather then agree to support Pauline Marois and toe the party line.
|Lise Lapointe, Pierre Curzi and Louis Beaudoin|
But that wasn't good enough and the three walked out on the party via a press conference, without even informing the party beforehand.
Yesterday another PQ member Jean Martin Aussant, also left, but was more direct as to his reasons. He complained that Marois' leadership was the reason for his departure, adding that she wasn't the right person to lead a successful referendum campaign. LINK
All of this was sparked by the unflinching support of Quebeckers to any arena project and the fear by the political parties that opposing the Lebeaume law would ballot box suicide.
The damage doesn't appear to be over, with Bernard Drainville, one of the few PQ bigwigs remaining advising Marois to make the vote on the arena deal a free vote where members are not forced to vote the party line, or else.....
The split by the four members represents the worst crisis the PQ has ever faced, even worse than after election defeats where at least the party remained united.
A whole new dynamic is created.
Will the rebels form a new more 'sovereignist' party, one somewhere between the PQ and Quebec solidaire? After all they have almost as many members as the Bloc Quebecois and with further defections likely it's an even bet that a new party could happen?
More likely is that Marois will be shown the door in the true style of the Parti Quebecois, who have a well-earned reputation for eating their leaders.
For federalists it makes for great theatre and my only hope is that the infighting continues for a good long time.
Look for the pages of Vigile.net to fill up quickly, as there's nothing like a good cat-fight to get the pens wagging.
In the meantime, Premier Charest shrewdly put off debate of the Lebaume law until the fall. That way the PQ can have another couple of months to battle it out over an issue that's tearing the party apart.
And so it'll be a summer of Pauline versus the radicals.
Who will win?
I don't care, as long as the fight goes on forever!!!