Is the PQ running on empty?: Hbert

MONTREAL—With sovereignty on the backburner in Quebec for the foreseeable future, is there life for the Parti Québécois as a defining political force? Or is the party that nearly secured a majority pro-secession vote in 1995 running on empty now that it has put off plans for a referendum until at least 2022?Both questions are back to the fore in the wake of the publication earlier this week of a devastating poll for the PQ.Done by Mainstreet in mid-May, it shows the PQ running a distant third at 24 per cent behind the ruling Liberals (31 per cent) and the leading Coalition Avenir Québec (32 per cent).Among the francophone voters who determine the outcome of an election, Mainstreet reported a nine-point lead for the CAQ with the PQ at 26 per cent, barely ahead of the Liberals (25 per cent). In what may be a first for the sovereigntist party since it first formed a government in the mid-seventies, the PQ has fallen behind in every age group.The next Quebec election is scheduled for the fall of 2018. Much water will flow under the bridge until then. Over the past decade, volatility has been a defining feature of the Quebec landscape. But the PQ may be facing a perfect storm of its own making. Article Continued BelowWhen he successfully ran for the leadership of the party less than a year ago, Jean-François Lisée convinced PQ activists to set aside the referendum file until a second majority mandate.He argued that to continue to insist on promising to stage another referendum in the face of the unwillingness of a majority of Quebecers to revisit the issue of their political future amounted to a recipe for repeat electoral defeats.Absent the prospect of an unwanted referendum, he believed voters would coalesce behind the PQ in the hope of ousting the Liberals from power.