Spat with Raelians dooms new party in Quebec politics

A confrontation with the Raelian cult has spelled the end for an upstart political party in Quebec.

Only a few months after receiving official party status, the Parti Démocrate du Québec has chosen to dissolve after it said that Raelian leader Claude Vorilhon, alias Rael, tried to take control of the party and clone his movement on the political scene.

Leader Olivier Chalifoux said yesterday that the party can no longer field candidates because it has lost all credibility after being linked to the Raelians.

This week, Mr. Chalifoux said he had turned down a $1-million offer from two Raelian members of the party executive to bankroll the cost of running 60 candidates in this year's provincial election. The Raelians denied the claim.

"He can take his $1-million and 60 candidates and go back wherever he came from on the spaceship that brought him here," Mr. Chalifoux said this week, referring to Rael's claim of having travelled with extraterrestrial beings and having been chosen to lead a cult that promotes the cloning of human beings.

"I am not going to sell myself out to anybody," he said. "They wanted a complete takeover of the party, and it could have succeeded if they had been more subtle."

He said the Raelians knew the party was desperate for money, which explained why he was tempted to accept the offer.

"I'm sure they are going to try again with another political party . . . and I am quite certain they will target the Action Démocratique du Québec," he said, offering no proof to support his allegation.

A spokeswoman for the Raelian Church of Canada, Nicole Bertrand, denied that efforts were made to take over a political party, and categorically rejected claims that an offer of $1-million was made to the Parti Démocrate du Québec.

"The claim is totally false. . . . Nobody had a mandate to offer $1-million. That's impossible. It would be illegal," she said. "We are a non-profit organization recognized by Revenue Canada as being involved in a religious activity."

She denied that two Raelians were members of the executive of the Parti Démocrate du Québec.