• Reuters

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Canadian media mogul Pierre Karl Peladeau has announced his candidacy to lead the separatist Parti Quebecois, declaring his focus would be on taking the mainly French-speaking province of Quebec out of Canada.

The Parti Quebecois (PQ) has been without a leader since shortly after April’s provincial election, in which the party suffered its worst defeat in 40 years. A recent poll, however, showed the PQ with Peladeau as leader would be ahead of the federalist Liberal Party, which won the April election, in popular support.

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

He was elected to the Quebec legislature in April and has been touted in a number of polls as the front-runner to replace former PQ leader and Premier Pauline Marois, who resigned after the party’s rout in April.

A Leger poll showed that under Peladeau the PQ would beat Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard’s Liberals 36 percent to 30 percent. However, an election is not due for several years.

Recruited by Marois to run for a seat in the provincial legislature, Peladeau was held partly responsible for the PQ’s April loss after he made a fist-pumping declaration of support for making Quebec a country, an idea opposed by most Quebecers.

The PQ has traditionally tried to tread carefully between keeping the dream of independence alive and scaring off voters who either want to stay in Canada or have simply had enough of the debate over secession.

A referendum on independence in 1980 lost by 60 percent to 40 percent, while one in 1995 lost by 50.6 percent to 49.4 percent.

The PQ will choose its leader next May.

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