QUEBEC — Gerard Deltell, the new leader of the Action democratique du Quebec, faces a mountain to climb in re-establishing the crippled party as a credible political force.
The right-leaning party has been devastated in the past year by a disastrous election performance, the resignation of its new leader after less than a month on the job, and two defections from its six-member caucus.
The party has also been rocked by allegations by Gilles Taillon, Deltell’s predecessor, that the party’s books are rife with financial irregularities.
But the 45-year-old Deltell, who was first elected in last December’s general election, is confident he can help lead the party back to respectability.
He told a news conference he will continue pursuing the party’s centre-right, provincial-autonomist vision in which the Quebec sovereignty debate gets shelved in favour of other issues like revamping the province’s economy.
“We have to get the job done — and we will,” Deltell told reporters in Quebec City after being named the new ADQ leader on Thursday.
“It’s not a good situation and I recognize that.”
Deltell, a former TV reporter who worked for Radio-Canada, TVA and TQS, succeeds Taillon, whose tumultuous leadership lasted less than a month.
Taillon triggered a firestorm of controversy when he recently said a conspiracy hatched between the federal Tories and influential members of his own party led to the demise of his leadership.
In a scathing open letter, Taillon said his decision to sever ties with the federal Conservatives and create an autonomous provincial party prompted a harsh response from the party’s old guard, including former leader Mario Dumont.