MONTREAL – It seems Pierre Karl Peladeau’s jump into politics for the sovereigntist Parti Quebecois is sparking an unexpected backlash against one of his companies.
The target of the consumer wrath is Videotron, a unit of Quebecor Media Inc. (TSX:QBR.B) that provides cable TV, Internet and wireless services.
Many people have taken to social media to grouse since Peladeau’s bombshell political announcement on Sunday and are considering whether to continue supporting Videotron.
Others have gone further and said Monday they’ve cancelled their contracts altogether after Peladeau’s declaration he is committed to making Quebec a country.
It’s unclear how many people have actually gone that far.
A Videotron spokesman said he couldn’t answer any questions. A spokesman for the parent company, Quebecor Media, did not return a call.
But as for the so-called boycott, Peladeau himself brushed off the online grumbling Monday, saying Videotron has a long, proven track record.
“Videotron is a great company which is providing the best service at the best price,” he said when asked about the boycott during a campaign stop in St-Bruno-de-Montarville, on Montreal’s south shore.
Some clients posted directly to Videotron’s Facebook page to say they had dumped the service while others countered they were satisfied as they criticized those who were leaving. Some even applauded Peladeau’s foray into politics.
“Long live Videotron, very satisfied, good service,” writes one client, Maurice Richard. “It is necessary to differentiate between politics and business.”
Others — in English and French postings alike — wrote they were satisfied with the service but could no longer support Videotron because of Peladeau’s political leanings. They said they could not differentiate between Peladeau and the corporate entity.
“We have been Videotron customers for over 20 years and now we will change to Bell,” wrote Beba Barone. “We will not support anyone who wants to break up Canada.”
Videotron interacted with customers on Facebook, offering to discuss people’s complaints and concerns further over the phone.
But some have already left. Jeff Taylor said in a phone interview he felt compelled to cancel his service, although Peladeau himself was not the overriding issue.
“It has less to do, for me personally, with Peladeau than it does a leader in a position like his of a major conglomerate who is practising politics that I don’t respect and I choose not to support,” said Taylor, a Montreal-area resident.
“Had it been anyone else, I would have made the same decision, I think.”
As the conversation exploded online, Videotron issued a statement on social media to explain that Peladeau was no longer with the company.
“Mr. Peladeau submitted his resignation to the corporate boards on which he sits,” the company wrote. “He will no longer take part in any decisions respecting the corporation’s daily or strategic management.
“Through Videotron, Quebecor will continue delivering the best possible customer experience.”
Peladeau announced Sunday he was resigning from a number of companies where he held senior positions, including Quebecor Media and Hydro-Quebec.