Peladeau throws his hat in Parti Quebecois leadership race

Media magnate Pierre Karl Peladeau is entering the Parti Quebecois leadership race in a move that could eventually have major consequences on national politics.

MONTREAL — Media magnate Pierre Karl Peladeau is entering the Parti Quebecois leadership race in a move that could eventually have major consequences on national politics.

Peladeau made the announcement in Montreal today in response to a question from a university student as to whether he was going to seek the leadership.

He then repeated his comment from the election campaign earlier this year that he wanted to make Quebec a country.

Polls have suggested the controlling shareholder of Quebecor Inc. (TSX:QBR.B) would be the front-runner in the race to succeed Pauline Marois as leader.

Peladeau won the riding of Saint-Jerome in last April’s election.

The multimillionaire had previously announced his candidacy with a fist-pumping declaration that he planned to make Quebec a country, an idea most Quebecers oppose.

The stunning move forced the PQ to address an issue it normally avoids come election time. After days musing about a post-secession Quebec, the party spent much of the campaign backpedalling as it dropped in the polls.

Peladeau himself downplayed the sovereignty issue in the following weeks, stressing he would use his business expertise to boost the province’s economy.

The man known in Quebec as PKP has been criticized in some quarters for refusing to sell his shares in Quebecor, whose extensive media holdings include the TVA television network, Le Journal de Montreal and the Videotron cable company.

He said previously he would be willing to put his shares in a trust if he ran and was chosen leader but that selling them was out of the question.

Marois resigned after the PQ’s crushing setback in April’s election when the party won only 30 of the province’s 125 ridings.

Peladeau joins caucus colleagues Jean-Francois Lisee, Bernard Drainville, Alexandre Cloutier and Martine Ouellet in the race. Another candidate is Pierre Cere, a spokesman for a group that defends the unemployed.

The leader will be chosen next May.

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