Parti Quebecois members resoundingly endorsed the leadership of Pauline Marois on Saturday, giving her 93.1 per cent support in a confidence vote.
The score, which even topped the 92 per cent backing that popular leader Jacques Parizeau garnered in 1991, is a massive boost for Ms. Marois with a provincial election likely to be held next year or in 2013.
"My victory is your victory," Ms. Marois told about 1,700 cheering delegates.
"My victory is the victory of a unified party, a party that wants to propose to the Quebec people a country that is free and a country that is independent."
As the delegates chanted "On veut un pays [We want a country]" Ms. Marois immediatey replied: "We want a country. and we will get it, our country."
In rallying party members at the weekend policy convention, Ms. Marois was able to avoid a potential banana peel in a party known for turning on its leaders.
Bernard Landry stepped down as PQ boss in 2005 when he got just 76.2 per cent support from party delegates, while Lucien Bouchard stayed on after getting virtually the same score in 1996.
Ms. Marois, who has been leader since 2007, will now be able to concentrate on hammering away at the governing Liberals, who were last elected in December 2008.
Premier Jean Charest, whose party has a slight majority in the national assembly, can wait until December 2013 before calling the next provincewide vote.
Earlier on Saturday, PQ members endorsed Ms. Marois' strategy of not getting boxed into any specific timetable for holding a sovereignty referendum.
They approved a plan for a PQ government to study reports on the impact of sovereignty, as was done in advance of the 1995 referendum.
Delegates also passed a resolution that would make French the mandatory language of instruction for immigrants and francophones who attend junior college.
Bill 101, the province's landmark language legislation, currently applies only to elementary and secondary schools.
Daniel Turp, a former Bloc Quebecois MP who is seeking the presidency of the PQ, said Ms. Marois has forged a party that is even more united than it was under Mr. Bouchard or Mr. Parizeau.
"I think it has a lot to do with Madame Marois herself, her way of dealing with people, with her colleagues, the members of this party," Mr. Turp said after the leadership result was announced.
"She listens. She's a person who has created that unity because of her own attitude toward people."
Mr. Turp downplayed the need for a public timetable for a sovereignty referendum.
"Those are issues that are not a priority for the PQ. It's preparing sovereignty. It's doing all kinds of things to be ready when we decide to hold the referendum."
The convention ends on Sunday.
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