Crisis in Solidarity Quebec | MP Christine Labrie named interim “pragmatic” co-spokesperson

Christine Labrie is named co-spokesperson for Québec solidaire (QS) on an interim basis until the election next fall of the person who will replace Émilise Lessard-Therrien, who resigned from her position on Monday. The member for Sherbrooke received the mandate to meet with members to take stock of the crisis the party is going through at the same time when Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois is proposing to transform it to make it more “pragmatic”. But what does pragmatism mean?

(Quebec) Going through a “period of upheaval”

By accepting the position of interim female co-spokesperson, Christine Labrie automatically excludes herself from the next race, which opens the way for the MP for Mercier, Ruba Ghazal, who finished second in the second round of the election as co-spokesperson last November.

“The wish we have as an organization is to replace Émilise with a new co-spokesperson fairly quickly. We are in a period of upheaval which is very important, which is even crucial for the future,” said Labrie, Thursday.

The new interim co-spokesperson specified that she fully recognized herself in the priorities established Wednesday by the parliamentary leader, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois. The latter affirmed that the party must modernize its statutes and its program to become more “pragmatic” and project the image of a government in waiting.

For me, pragmatism is being able to make choices and understanding that you can’t do everything at the same time.

Christine Labrie, new interim co-spokesperson for Québec solidaire

On Wednesday, Mr. Nadeau-Dubois also affirmed that the responsibilities of the two co-spokespeople needed to be reviewed in order to better define their role. QS members will be able to debate its priorities at the party’s next National Council in Saguenay, later this month. An overhaul of the statutes must also take place in the fall, but it will be carried out after the election of the new co-spokesperson.

Pragmatic, like François Legault?

By asserting on Wednesday that his party must become more “pragmatic” and “choose (its) battles”, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois launched a whole semantic debate: what is pragmatism, this label which a majority of politicians claim , starting with CAQ Prime Minister François Legault?

A “pragmatic” person is “oriented towards practical action” and presents an attitude “which adapts to any situation”, according to the Larousse definition. Synonyms? “Positive, practical, realistic and utilitarian”. The opposite: “utopian”.

Thursday, the members of the Québec solidaire caucus who agreed to answer questions, still shaken by the hasty departure of their former colleague, Mme Lessard-Therrien, all had definitions to propose for this word which must guide the overhaul of the party program.

“It’s words, and words alone aren’t even worth the ink you write them with. We need to put some substance into it,” said the member for Rosemont, Vincent Marissal, the only member of the caucus who had supported the former member for Rouyn-Noranda–Témiscamingue in her race.


The solidarity deputy for Rosemont, Vincent Marissal

“Gabriel launched something yesterday (Wednesday). You need to know what it is exactly. I learned it yesterday. (…) I think it is up to (him) to explain the position. It’s not just me and my caucus colleagues waiting. There are members, activists and the population in general who are waiting for an explanation of this,” added Mr. Marissal.

A “philosophical” question

For the MP for Saint-Henri–Sainte-Anne in Montreal, Guillaume Cliche-Rivard, pragmatism “means a lot of things”.

“For me, personally, a pragmatist means making decisions that are based on the facts, and then allow us to move forward. (…) Pragmatic, it can mean what it means for who it means. But honestly, getting into a philosophy debate on what pragmatism means, (this) morning…” he said.


The solidarity MP for Saint-Henri–Sainte-Anne, Guillaume Cliche-Rivard

Unfortunately for him, his colleague Sol Zanetti, a philosopher by training, was not present at the press briefing to provide food for thought. The latter has still not reacted to the parliamentary press to the shock resignation of Émilise Lessard-Therrien.

Andrés Fontecilla, who previously served as QS co-spokesperson, “completely agrees” with Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois that the party must adapt to succeed in making gains.

“We don’t want to be in opposition forever,” he said, a position that Guillaume Cliche-Rivard supports. “I did not leave my day-to-day law practice to stay in opposition,” he said.

“I hear the debates. What I find healthy is important. If we do not have debates, then if we no longer have debates, we are not Quebec in solidarity,” he summarized.


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