Ironically, Jean Charest's decision not to run a Liberal candidate against PQ leader Pauline Marois in the Charlevoix by-election, may just be her undoing.
Although PQ leader Pauline Marois' re-entry into Quebec's legislative assembly was supposed to be a cakewalk, the ADQ is aiming to pull off a dramatic political upset next month, and the former Liberal candidate in Charlevoix is not ruling out the possibility.
After the PQ MNA in Marois' former riding of Taillon refused to resign her seat, in order to allow the PQ leader back into the assembly, Marois was forced to settle for the riding of Charlevoix, held by PQ MNA Rosaire Bertrand from 1994 to 2007.
In the 2007 provincial election, the PQ held onto the seat with a pretty comfortable margin.
However, the by-election promises to change the dynamic of the campaign because the Liberals will not be fielding a candidate. Premier Jean Charest has explained that the Liberals are not fielding a candidate out of parliamentary tradition. However, ADQ leader Mario Dumont has justifiably argued that voters should have a choice, and that this particular parliamentary tradition is not extended to third party leaders.
In any event, the absence of one of the major federalist parties may have stunning consequences for the PQ campaign. If the campaign unravels along federalist vs. separatist lines, the ADQ could easily carry the day given that the Liberal vote is far more likely to drift to the ADQ than to any other party. If the campaigns unravels instead along right vs. left lines, the ADQ also promises to pick up the largest number of Liberal voters given that the PQ has long been regarded in Quebec as a left-wing social democratic alternative to a right-wing Liberal Party closely aligned with the interests of big business in Quebec.
Marois' star power as a party leader may help her make up for these shortcomings. However, at this point, she is likely regretting that the Liberals have chosen not to run a candidate. Indeed, it may be the lack of a Liberal candidate in Charlevoix that ends up defeating her in the by-election.