Quebec's left-wing party, Québec Solidaire, is giving itself a younger public face as it tries to become the main alternative to François Legault's government.
Manon Massé, who turns 59 this week, said Sunday she will hand the parliamentary leadership position to Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois in the fall.
Nadeau-Dubois, 30, will also be the party's candidate for premier in the 2022 elections and be its representative in the leadership debates.
Those were two roles that Massé occupied in the last election. Her blunt-spoken French, and fierce defence of the disadvantaged, set her apart from her more conventional competitors in the 2018 debates.
Her popularity surged during the campaign and helped propel the party to it's best-ever election results. It won 10 seats and now finds itself as the second largest opposition party, behind the Quebec Liberals, who have 28 seats.
In speech Sunday to party members, Massé said she had re-evaluated her priorities during the pandemic.
She acknowledged her age and lauded the contributions of youth-driven progressive movements, including Black Lives Matter, Idle No More and the environmental activism of Swedish teen Greta Thunberg.
"Politicians stole young people's future and the pandemic has stolen their present. I want to keep fighting to get those back," she said in a speech broadcast on the party's Facebook page.
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Unlike other political parties, Québec Solidaire is led by a tandem of "spokespersons," one man and one woman.
Massé said she and Nadeau-Dubois will seek another mandate as the party's spokespeople. She also plans to run again in Sainte-Marie–Saint-Jacques, the Montreal riding she has represented since since 2014.
In practise, the changes announced Sunday mean Nadeau-Dubois will be more prominent in the National Assembly and in the media.
In a speech that followed Massé's, Nadeau-Dubois paid homage to her contributions to the party's success. "No one saw us coming in 2018. No one saw Manon coming," he said.
He also used his speech to offer a series of criticism of the Legault government, blaming it for allowing social inequalities to worsen during the pandemic.
Pointing to shortages of daycare spaces, hospital beds and affordable housing, Nadeau-Dubois said "all of Quebec is on a waiting list."