Every politician runs into bad days but Pierre Karl Péladeau has had but a handful of good ones.
The Parti Québécois Leader cancelled all public events Tuesday and was set to take at least a couple days off after announcing his separation from long-time companion and beloved Quebec celebrity Julie Snyder – less than six months after a wedding befitting their status as Quebec royalty.
The personal setback was punctuation for a brutal political week and eight-month leadership reign marked more by gaffes, outbursts, Facebook rants and threats to sue his critics than resounding victories.
One of the few bright spots was his August wedding to Ms. Snyder that was presided over by Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume and attended by a who's who of Quebec stars. ("I think I did it properly," Mr. Labeaume said with a chuckle Tuesday. He was one of the few Quebec political figures who dared stick a toe into such personal territory.)
Mr. Péladeau was taking time to be with his family but was "in no way" reconsidering his political future, party spokesman Bruno-Pierre Cyr said. "This has nothing to do with politics."
Mr. Péladeau's repeated political troubles, long before his marital ones, have had the effect of hobbling the opposition PQ's effectiveness. Philippe Couillard's Liberals, on a cost-cutting mission, have managed to slightly improve their standing in polls while the PQ has slipped. Several underperforming Liberal cabinet ministers will be replaced and demoted in a Thursday shuffle, but Mr. Péladeau has barely laid a glove on them. Their names have rarely been raised this year as the PQ Leader hogs attention.
Mr. Péladeau's most recent troubles started last week with rumours that he was about to cut loose his handpicked chief of staff, former PQ cabinet minister and Radio-Canada broadcaster Pierre Duchesne. Instead of making a standard statement standing by his man, Mr. Péladeau avoided questions before finally saying the rumour wasn't true and snapping at the press. "It's none of your business," he said. "It's my team. Everything is going well on my team."
The very next day, threats of a lawsuit flew on another matter. The Coalition Avenir Québec was engaged in a row with the PQ Leader over Mr. Péladeau's plan to establish a pro-sovereignty think tank. The CAQ had suggested such an institute might constitute illegal party spending if set up by rich donors such as Mr. Péladeau. He threatened to sue.
Liberal House Leader Jean-Marc Fournier piled on last Tuesday saying Mr. Péladeau doesn't understand democracy. "When a rich guy believes the way to hold a democratic debate is to send lawyers' letters, I think we're falling into legal bullying," Mr. Fournier told reporters.
Mr. Péladeau heard Mr. Fournier's words and was asked if he was going to again threaten to sue. "I'm mulling it over," he said, giving the story several more days of life.
In recent days, Radio-Canada and La Presse have dug into Quebecor's corporate practices and compared them with Mr. Péladeau's avowed goal of stopping companies from stashing earnings offshore to avoid Quebec and Canadian taxes. It turns out Quebecor has holdings in places such as the Cayman Islands and Barbados, but he insisted they weren't established under his watch.
He again threatened to sue and launched the latest in a series of broadsides against the powerful federalist Desmarais family, owners of La Presse. "When will they launch their in-depth investigation on the tax practices of Power Corporation?" he asked on his Facebook page.
Then, on Monday night came the joint statement by Mr. Péladeau and Ms. Snyder's production company saying they'd split and were looking for the best way forward for their children, ages 10 and 6.
Mr. Péladeau, the former chief executive and current controlling shareholder of Quebecor Inc. media and telecom conglomerate, began his political career in tumult and misstep.
He arrived in politics alongside then-PQ leader Pauline Marois in the April, 2014 election. With raised fist, he went off the PQ campaign script and declared he wanted to make a country out of Quebec. Alarmed voters stampeded to the Liberals, ending 18 months of PQ minority government.
One day after announcing his political run and despite saying he was taking his distance from his corporate holdings, Mr. Péladeau cruised into the Quebecor parking garage only to discover he'd been cut off from the company. He flew into a rage, The Globe and Mail reported last year, and his privileges were soon restored.
He hasn't found it so easy to gain satisfaction since.