Canadian media mogul wins leadership of separatist Quebec party

Fri May 15, 2015 10:11pm EDT
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By Allison Lampert

MONTREAL May 15 (Reuters) - Canadian media mogul Pierre Karl Péladeau was chosen to head the separatist Parti Quebecois on Friday, following an often fractious leadership race over the accommodation of religious minorities and how to take the French-language province out of Canada.

The Parti Quebecois (PQ) has been without a leader since shortly after the April 2014 provincial election, where the party suffered its worst defeat in 40 years.

Péladeau, known as PKP, is the controlling shareholder and former chief executive of Quebec's largest media company, Quebecor Inc.

An elected member of Quebec`s provincial parliament, Péladeau joined the leadership race in November to replace former PQ leader Pauline Marois, telling a reporter that he had entered politics to achieve Quebec independence.

He has been criticized in Canadian media for his reputed temper and generated controversy during the race when he warned that new arrivals, who generally vote in favour of Quebec remaining in Canada, were harming the province's separatist movement.

"We don't have 25 years ahead of us to achieve it. With demographics, with immigration, we're definitely losing one riding each year," Péladeau said, referring to electoral districts, during a March leadership debate in Quebec City, Canadian media reported.

He later apologized for the remarks.

Péladeau will face new challenges over his dual roles as Quebec politician and controlling shareholder of Quebecor.

He continues to be dogged by critics who say his business holdings risk putting him in a conflict of interest.

Péladeau has insisted he would not give up the Quebecor shares he inherited from his father. He has said he would be willing to put them in a blind trust, a financial arrangement where a politician cedes the administration of private business interests to an independent party. (Reporting by Allison Lampert; Editing by Ken Wills)