The Parti Québécois or PQ is a left wing political party that advocates national sovereignty for Quebec from Canada. It also advocates social democracy. Members and supporters of the PQ are sometimes called Péquistes (pronounced -- a word derived from the French pronunciation of the party's initials).
The PQ is the result of the 1968 merger between René Lévesque's Mouvement souveraineté-association and the Ralliement national. Following the creation of the PQ, the Rassemblement pour l'indépendance nationale held a general assembly that voted to dissolve the RIN. Its former members were invited to join the new Parti Québécois.
The PQ's primary goals were and still are to obtain the political, economic and social independence for the Quebec political nation. In the 1976 provincial election, the Parti Québécois was elected to form the government of Quebec. The party's leader, René Lévesque, became the Premier of Quebec. This was cause for celebration among many French-speaking Quebecers, but resulted in panic and a mass exodus among many of the province's anglophone and minority workers and business people.
The first PQ government was known as the "republic of teachers" because of the large number of PQ Members of the National Assembly of Quebec (MNAs) who taught at the university level. The PQ was the first government to recognize the First Peoples' right to self-determination. The PQ passed laws on public consultations and the financing of political parties, which insured equal financing of political parties and limited contributions by individuals to $3000. However, the most important legacy of the PQ is the Charter of the French Language (the so-called Bill 101), a framework law which defines the linguistic primacy of French and seeks to make French the common public language of Quebec. Critics, both francophone and anglophone, have however criticized the charter for restraining citizens' linguistic school choice, as it forbids immigrants and Quebecers of French descent from attending English-language schools.
The Parti Québécois has initiated two referendums to begin negotiation for independence. The 1980 Quebec referendum on sovereignty association was rejected by 60 per cent of voters.
With the failure of the Charlottetown Accord and the Meech Lake Accord, two packages of proposed amendments to the Canadian constitution, the question of Quebec's status remained unresolved, and the PQ called the 1995 Quebec referendum proposing negotiations on sovereignty. It was rejected by a slim margin, less than one per cent. On the night of the defeat, Premier Jacques Parizeau stated that the loss was caused by "money and the ethnic vote" as well as by the divided votes amongst francophones. Parizeau resigned the next day (as he had planned beforehand in case of a defeat).
Lucien Bouchard, founder of the Bloc Québécois, a sovereigntist party at the federal level, succeeded Parizeau as PQ leader, but chose not to call another referendum due to the absence of "winning conditions". Bouchard's government then engaged in massive cuts in social programs in order to balance the provincial budget. The PQ won another term in 1998, and continued with this program. Bouchard resigned in 2001, and was succeeded as PQ leader and Quebec premier by Bernard Landry, a former PQ Finance minister. Under Landry's leadership, the party lost the 2003 Quebec election to Jean Charest's Quebec Liberal Party.
Summer and fall 2004 were difficult seasons for Bernard Landry's leadership which is being widely contested. A vote will be held during the party's June 2005 convention to determine whether Landry continues to have the confidence of the party membership.
The Bloc Québécois is a Canadian political party at the federal level that was founded in 1990 by future PQ leader Lucien Bouchard. It holds close ties to the Parti Québécois, and shares its two principal objectives: sovereignty and social democracy. The two parties frequently share political candidates, and support each other during election campaigns. They have a similar membership and voter base. Prominent members of either party often attend and speak at both organizations' public events. The current Bloc leader, Gilles Duceppe, is also the son of Jean Duceppe, a famous Quebec actor who helped found the PQ. Jean Duceppe also helped found the New Democratic Party branch in Quebec, which later separated from the federal NDP and merged into the Union des Forces Progressistes (UFP), which gathered 1,0% of the provincial vote during the 2004 election, twice the number of the closest fourth party (the Bloc Pot , with 0,5% of vote turnout in 2004).
Leaders of the Parti Québécois
Elections and slogans
- 1970: OUI - Yes
- 1973: J'ai le goût du Québec - I have the taste for Quebec
- 1976: On a besoin d'un vrai gouvernement - We need a real government [won power]
- 1981: Faut rester forts au Québec - We must remain strong in Quebec [remained in power]
- 1985: Le Québec avec Johnson - Quebec with Johnson
- 1989: Je prends le parti du Québec - I'm taking the party of Quebec / I'm choosing Quebec (double meaning)
- 1994: L'autre façon de gouverner - The other way of governing [won power]
- 1998: J'ai confiance - I have confidence [remained in power]
- 2003: Restons forts - Let's stay strong
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||% of popular vote