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Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau talks to media outside the legislature in Quebec City, Thursday, April 18, 2013.Clement Allard/The Canadian Press

The year is 2015. Quebec is facing another referendum on becoming its own country. And, really, it is 1995 all over again.

Officially, the leader of the "Yes" camp is the Premier of Quebec, and the leader of the "No" camp is at the helm of the Quebec Liberals. On the sidelines, however, a secondary battle is grabbing much of the public's attention.

The sovereigntists have a star recruit who stands to be the "Yes" side's negotiator with the federal government in the event of victory. A former Mulroney protégé, the politician is proving a major weapon in a separatist resurgence.

The "No" side also has a key performer in the form of a Quebecker who leads a small opposition party in the House of Commons. He makes a passionate defence of Canada at every turn, helping to rally the federalist side in the lead-up to the vote.

In 1995, this was the dynamic when Lucien Bouchard, as the leader of the Bloc Québécois, faced a vigorous rival in the form of Jean Charest, then the Progressive Conservative leader who waved his Canadian passport across Quebec.

Could it happen again 20 years later?

At the moment, this is a bit of a political fiction hinged on a series of hypotheticals, the most important being a Parti Québécois majority in the April 7 provincial elections.

Still, a potential clash of political titans is shaping up that could give insight into how another sovereignty referendum would go down.

Name and age

Pierre Karl Péladeau, 52

Justin Trudeau, 42

Current position

Parti Québécois candidate in the riding of St-Jérôme, north of Montreal

Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and MP in the riding of Papineau, in Montreal

Famous father

Pierre Péladeau, the nationalist founder of Québecor who created a printing empire with a number of newspapers, including the Journal de Montréal

Pierre Trudeau, the former prime minister who was a well-known federalist intellectual before leading Canada from 1968 to 1984


Pierre Karl Péladeau took over Québecor in 1999 and transformed the firm with a focus on cable, television, internet and mobile

Justin Trudeau took over the Liberal Party in 2013 and modernized the party’s operations, from fundraising to a new focus on social media


Three children with his ex-spouse, Julie Snyder, who is a popular television host and broadcasting mogul in Quebec

Three children with his wife, Sophie Grégoire, who is a television host and works with charities

Potential role in a referendum

Mr. Péladeau still needs to be elected to the National Assembly, but he has acknowledged in an interview with La Presse that he has the qualities to act as the lead negotiator in the event of a Yes victory

Federal leaders traditionally have side roles in referendum campaigns, but Mr. Trudeau could be expected to criss-cross the province and make his trademark pleas in favour of Canadian unity


"My joining the Parti Québécois is tied to my most intimate and profound values and that is to say I want Quebec to become a country."

"I live this country in my bones, every breath I take, and I'm not going to stand here and somehow defend that I actually do love Canada because we know I love Canada."

Daniel Leblanc is a parliamentary reporter in Ottawa.