There is recognizable symmetry to Pierre Karl Péladeau's surprise exit from the political stage.
His unexpected arrival in politics in the spring of 2014 – right fist famously raised, promising a quick march to Quebec independence – didn't add up to much, though the gesture did help sink his party in that year's provincial election.
His abrupt, tearful leave-taking, announced on Monday at a Parti Québécois office adjacent to his estranged wife Julie Snyder's production company, may have a greater impact than anything he actually did in the National Assembly.
Mr. Péladeau's resignation, for family reasons (he and Ms. Snyder have two young children, and their marriage and its breakdown have been highly public), was widely rumoured on social media Monday. Confirmation came first through TVA news – part of the media empire he controls, and which he stubbornly refused to place in a completely blind trust. It was one of many self-inflicted injuries in his brief, frantic political career.
Ordinarily, a PQ leader's retreat to the shadows is cause for federalist celebration. But Mr. Péladeau – tin-eared, volcanically tempered, organizationally inept – was the best argument against voting PQ. Premier Philippe Couillard is surely lamenting the resignation: The stoutest barrier to the PQ replacing his unpopular Liberals has been removed.
The PQ is as famous for knifing its leaders as it is for embracing its latest saviour. The main federalist fear has to be the party finally seeing the sense in electing a unifier capable of rallying the sovereigntist movement, which atomized further in the Péladeau era.
Brought in to bolster the PQ's business cred, Mr. Péladeau managed to anger traditional allies like the student and union federations, alienate party stalwarts, and churn through staff. After initially standing as a natural heir to Jacques Parizeau's separatists-in-a-hurry tradition, he soon veered to more moderate ground. He succeeded in pleasing no one.
Historians will place his stewardship of the PQ in the pantheon of leadership mediocrity; at 353 days, Mr. Péladeau is the briefest-serving leader in the party's 50-year history, and the only one not to lead it into an election.
He will be missed, by federalists most of all.