LOG CABIN CHRONICLES

Nouveau Parti Quebecor, eh?

Posted 03.27.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Karl Peladeau's entry into the Quebec election campaign has been well dissected but one question has not been carefully studied -- the man's motive for this radical career change.

Why has he jumped into politics, and why on the side of the PQ? What's in it for him -- this man who owns so influential a part of the Quebec economy, Quebecor (including the Sun newspapers)?

This is necessary speculation. It is important to know why such a heavy-hitter in business wants his hand in the political decision-making of our province.

It's suggested that PKP intends to replace Mme. Marois as party leader. And, that he is now out as an independentiste, Peladeau wants to go down in history as the man who leads Quebec to "be a nation". This is an old dream.

But consider the actual election: Suppose the PKPequistes don't form the next majority government? Will this world-scale businessman hang around in opposition on the off-chance his political fortunes will improve? Even if he unseats Marois, he's still cooling his heels with the backbenchers.

Couldn't his goals be very different than these?

First speculation: did he realize that politics is interesting, challenging -- and very rewarding -- after getting the Landry government to finance (via the FTQ) his hostile takeover of Videotron, and after getting a $400 million gift from Quebec to build a new stadium in Quebec City, and a gift of seven wireless licenses from the Harper government?

Quebecor paid $233 million for these licenses -- "a bargain" says analyst S. Maher of Postmedia. Politics is easy and yet fruitful, PKP may have decided, bored with his boardrooms.

This won't explain why he'd stick around in second place, if it comes to that.

I see politics as only part of his goal. If politics works, if he can become a Founding Father of Quebec, "remembered" on every license plate, that's an admirable goal. If not, he has more in his sights.

PKP is a businessman. He may not be a good one, having lost two billion in the value of the holdings he inherited from his father, but he thinks business. And what is one major field that Quebecor is not involved in? Energy. Does PKP intend to move Quebecor not only into professional sports, but into the energy sector?

Today, that means hydro energy. PKP was handed the reins to Hydro Quebec last year by Mme Marois. He asked for them. Why? He now knows Hydro Quebec from the inside out. He has the contacts. He knows its profit centres and its holes. Like the Montreal Economic Institute, does he want the PQ to privatize Hydro Quebec? And to keep it in Quebec hands, to sell it to Quebecor?

So, yes, to replace Mme Marois. PKP is always The Leader.

Yes, to lead Quebec to independence.

And, most certainly yes, to expanding Quebecor into energy.

A win-win-win, any way he looks at it.

Does this look so rosy to the rest of us?

john@johnmahoney.com




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