QUEBEC - Philippe Couillard's poetic side emerged Wednesday as he invoked Moliere and Samuel Beckett in paying tribute to Parti Quebecois member Sylvain Gaudreault.

The Quebec premier stood up in the legislature and read a poem to Gaudreault, who was grilling Couillard for the last time as interim PQ leader before a permanent successor to Pierre Karl Peladeau is chosen Friday.

In his preamble, Couillard said he was inspired by "Tartuffe," a theatrical comedy by Moliere that is written in the alexandrine verse form.

On Monday, Couillard attended the premiere of the play at a Montreal theatre.

The premier told the national assembly his own text was called "Waiting for Gaudreault," a reference to Beckett's "Waiting for Godot."

"Yes, poetry is important," Couillard said. "Art is important in life."

In his poem, Couillard praised Gaudreault as a formidable opponent and made a reference to the PQ choosing a new leader the party hopes will steady the ship.

Gaudreault then stood up to go thank Couillard as other members of the legislature applauded.

Gaudreault is staying on as a member of the national assembly but will be replaced as PQ leader by either Jean-Francois Lisee, Alexandre Cloutier, Martine Ouellet or Paul St-Pierre Plamondon. The voting for the new leader began Wednesday.

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