Will Harper Turn his Back on Péladeau and Sun News?


The first thing that sprang to mind when I saw Pauline Marois standing next to her Don Draperesque candidate in St. Jerome last week, was the old timey expression… catching a tiger by its tale.

Pierre Karl Péladeau will not be joining the PQ to play a supporting role in the party’s fate.  The erstwhile king-maker in provincial politics and to a lesser extent federal politics, through his Sun News Network, has made the first move towards becoming the next king.  As many have speculated including the venerable Chantal Hébert, Pauline had better sleep with one eye open because PKP is probably eyeing the drapes in her office.

Of course, this will never be the straightforward proposition that some on the febrile Quebec political scene seems to think or want it to be.  First of all, it’s worth noting that PKP is a rookie politician with no previously elected offices under his belt.  Many other billionaire businessman have attempted to make the transition to politics and failed.  Remember Ross Perot’s disastrous 1992 presidential campaign?

As for Ms. Hébert’s comparison to Lucien Bouchard, I would remind her that Bouchard was a seasoned politician when he took over the PQ in 1995, with a proven electoral track record as both a Federal MP with the Bloc and the Progressive Conservative Party.  PKP’s early remarks where he seemed to disregard the role of the Ethics Commissioner of the National Assembly in regulating the potential conflict of interest in owning shares in Quebecor (his media conglomerate), showed the kind of arrogance that often gets politicians into hot water during elections.

That said, the PQ chose PKP’s riding wisely allowing him to run in St. Jerome which is one of the fast growing, largely suburban middle class, overwhelmingly French Canadian ridings, north of Montreal that voted for the right-wing, nationalistic CAQ last time around.  With the former untouchable cop Jacques Duchesneau resigning a couple months before the election was called, St. Jerome is up for grabs.  Péladeau’s unique blend of anti-union, nationalistic and pro-business values will no doubt be lapped up by voters of this picturesque part of the Laurentians although perhaps not quite so much by the college and university students.

But what are the Feds to make of all this.  Most of those from Quebec, will hardly be shocked by this development having seen for years the potential of PKP throwing his hat in the ring.  It’s no secret that PKP’s father was an ardent sovereingtist and wasn’t shy about making his voice heard in the debate about Quebec’s future.  PKP hardly went to the provinces biggest crown corporation, Hydro Quebec, to pad his resume.  This is a case of the apple not straying too far from the tree.

Federally, this is primarily a problem for the Harper Conservatives, seeing as they have been hopping into bed with PKP for quite some time and now must feel a little betrayed.  It’s not clear whether the Conservatives were unaware of PKP’s politics or whether they figured the Faustian bargain they struck with Quebecor’s Sun News was worth the risks involved in supporting a man with a separatist agenda. After all, the Sun News 24 hour news network’s puppets have been carrying the water for Harper ever since it came into existence in 2011, even hiring Korey Teneycke former chief spin doctor to the PM.  In return, the government favoured the company with all kinds of access to its ministers and, after intense lobbying by PKP himself, even conceding a change to the CRTC carry rules to force all Canadian TV providers to carry all ‘category C” networks, including Sun News throughout the country.  A big boon to the fledgling Sun News Network that was struggling to gain access to viewers throughout Canada.

So, if anyone has regrets right now about this turn of events, it must surely be the egg-faced Tories who for years ranted and railed against the Bloc and the PQ only to discover that they’re biggest cheerleader in the media was owned by a closet separatist.  Now the question becomes: what to do about it?  Do they abandon Sun News Network and turn their back on all that slavish media coverage?  Or carry on as if  PKP never made his announcement, who to be fair is no longer the CEO of the media wing of his empire, though no one believes that he has ever taken a hands-off approach to running his business?  Happy dilemma for the opposition to exploit, I would say.


Other articles by David DesBaillets

Federal Politicians take vow of silence during Quebec election
Snowden leaks have shown Canadians how CSEC and their government
My Weekend With Trudeau (JT to his friends)
Was the Canadian Government involved in a TransCanada cover-up?
Confessions of a lefty Jewish Canadian on Harper’s visit to Israel

Follow David DesBaillets on twitter @DDesBaillets


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