PQ leader Pauline Marois talks to reporters about Pierre Duchesne, a former CBC journalist who will announce Friday that he will join the Parti Quebecois.
Credits: SIMON CLARK/QMI AGENCY
Pierre Duchesne, who once wrote an unauthorized biography of hardline separatist former premier Jacques Parizeau, will announce Friday he's joining the party that wants to take Quebec out of Canada.
Duchesne, who retired as Radio-Canada's Quebec City correspondent on June 15, will be the second CBC reporter to join the Parti Quebecois in the past five years.
His former colleague, Bernard Drainville, courted controversy in 2007 when he quit as Radio-Canada's Quebec City bureau chief to join the PQ.
Duchesne's former colleagues at Radio-Canada broke the news Thursday that he'll be a PQ candidate in an election that could be called next month.
Even before the announcement, Premier Jean Charest's top minister suggested Duchesne had been in a conflict of interest amid reports the PQ had approached him while he was still a reporter.
"Were we talking to a reporter or a PQ candidate?" deputy premier Michelle Courchesne asked journalists in Quebec City.
"It seems to me that if he wasn't planning to run, he would have denied it."
Marois insisted her party only contacted Duchesne last week, about 10 days after he announced his retirement.
"I would invite you, and I would invite Mr. Charest and Mrs. Courchesne and all the others to go and watch Mr. Duchesne's reports to see if he was partial to the Parti Quebecois," said Marois, adding: "I don't think it's the case."
But Marois also lauded Duchesne's 2001 biography of Parizeau, saying it "led us to believe that he would find it interesting that Quebec will one day become a sovereign state."
Canadian political parties of all stripes have former journalists among their ranks. Charest's own cabinet includes one-time Radio-Canada correspondent Christine St-Pierre, who now serves as culture minister.
PQ co-founder and longtime premier Rene Leveque was a Radio-Canada personality before jumping into politics in the 1960s.
The head of Quebec's main journalists' association says the key is for reporters to put their opinions aside and do their jobs.
"Journalists have the right to political opinions," says Brian Myles, head of the FPJQ. "Journalists vote like anyone else."
He says anyone who questions Pierre Duchesne's objectivity should contact the CBC ombudsman.
"It's up to the Liberal party to prove what they're saying because journalists are always critical of the party in power."