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Marois staffers not returning calls from Liberal counterparts

Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois gestures after delivering her concession speech at her provincial election night headquarters in Montreal April 7, 2014. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi (CANADA - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)

CHRISTINNE MUSCHI/REUTERS

It was supposed to be an orderly transition, but it has been anything but that.

When Pauline Marois announced she was stepping down as Parti Québécois leader after her crushing defeat on Monday, she promised a smooth handover of power to Liberal premier-designate Philippe Couillard.

Traditionally, a defeated premier meets quickly with the leader of the winning party shortly after the election to symbolize the democratic change of power. For instance, Jean Charest met with Ms. Marois two days after his party lost the election on Sept. 4, 2012.

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On Friday, not only was a meeting not yet officially set between the two leaders, but members of Ms. Marois's senior staff were not even returning calls from Liberals anxious to complete the transition.

The office of PQ interim leader Stéphane Bédard indicated a meeting will take place next week, "probably Tuesday or Wednesday." However, the Liberals had yet to receive an official confirmation on Friday afternoon.

On three occasions, Mr. Couillard's chief of staff, Louis Dufresne, has left messages with Ms. Marois's counterpart, Nicole Stafford.

Ms. Marois has not faced the media to explain her part in the PQ's worst showing in popular support since its first election, in 1970.

Since her defeat, Ms. Marois has refused to take questions from journalists, and several of her colleagues blame the media for the party's rout. During a final gathering of defeated and elected candidates on Thursday, Ms. Marois's bodyguards brought her in and out of the meeting room through a backdoor, avoiding television cameras and reporters outside.

A Liberal staffer called Ms. Marois's behaviour a bit "weird," but quite understandable, given the emotional devastation such a defeat can cause.

Liberals say Ms. Marois's behaviour will have no serious consequences for the newly elected government. The province's top civil servant – Jean St-Gelais, the PQ-appointed secretary-general of the executive council – has been briefing his Liberal replacement, Juan Roberto Iglesias, on the major files and issues that will need to be addressed when the Liberals take power.

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Ms. Marois will hold her final cabinet meeting next Wednesday. Some time before or perhaps right after cabinet, she will hold the symbolic changing of the guard meeting with Mr. Couillard.

Mr. Couillard's cabinet is expected to be sworn in the following week, probably on April 23. A decision will then be made on when to convene the National Assembly for an Inaugural Speech, followed by a new budget, which Mr. Couillard wants adopted before the summer recess.

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About the Author
Quebec City political correspondent

Rhéal Séguin is a journalist and political scientist. Born and educated in southern Ontario, he completed his undergraduate degree in political science at York University and a master's degree in political science at the Université du Québec à Montréal.Rhéal has practised journalism since 1978, first with Radio-Canada in radio and television and then with CBC Radio. More

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