Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Andre Boisclair just announced that he's stepping down as Parti Quebecois leader effective immediately. I am surprised by this occurring so soon, but I guess before the National Assembly kicks off, it appears he didn't have the momentum to have any credibility as a third party opposition leader or ever becoming premier.

Rumours are now spreading that long-time Bloc Quebecois leader, Gilles Duceppe, will throw his hat (hopefully not that cheese factory head thingy) into the ring. I think it's fair to say that if he does, he'll win.

I've always liked Mr. Duceppe's style. He is incredibly intelligent, steady, and forthright. You've always known where he stands and I respect his passion for his cause. He was excellent in the 2006 leadership debates. He never insulted Canada or Canadians and squashed the use of the divisive word "separatist" by using "sovereignist"--certainly a more fuzzy and friendly word.

On these things, I think the opposite of Boisclair, who's been facing a lot of pressure from his own party to take a hike. I don't think being gay is any of the reasons, but the coke thing lingered and I don't think he came across as a solid leader. You see, you just don't question these things with a guy like Gilles Duceppe.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but Duceppe didn't really help out much during the last Quebec provincial election. I wonder if he was hoping for the present situation, where the PQ would lose out, but not lose too badly. Hmmm. I call this a "Duceppetion".

So now what does this mean for the Bloc Quebecois? Being that it's only had two leaders, both of which appear to have used that parliamentary leadership to jump to the Assembly, unless they find a larger than life leader in the image of Lucien Bouchard or Mr. Duceppe, they won't be up at the 50 or so seats they are now. I would have picked long-time and effective opposition MP, Michel Gauthier, for the job, who was already leader for a year after Bouchard stepped down, but he's not running again, nor did he keep the caucus together then, so who knows will step up.

I think Mr. Duceppe (by the way, notice how everyone calls him that and not Gilles?) has taken the Bloc Quebecois as far as he can and has certainly kept it as an effective voice for Quebec on the national stage. I think this is a good move for him and would certainly cause Mario Dumont, let alone Jean Charest, some nervousness, being that Mr. Duceppe has more experience in opposition than anyone in Canada.

With Duceppe gone, the next federal election won't see the Bloc do as well, probably down in the 40 seat area with the Conservatives picking up most of them--that is, if the Afghanistan issue doesn't become the big concern in Quebec at the time of the election. Poll trends are showing that when our soliders die, Conservatives take a hit in the polls in Quebec.

Stephen Harper's Conservatives have certainly thrown a lot of bones to Quebec in the last five months -- declaring them a "nation" (of course, thanks to an impending Duceppe motion) and a whack of cash, "solving" the fiscal imbalance (trumpted over and over, again, by Duceppe), which Charest is using for tax cuts. Has it changed voters minds about Stephen Harper? Well, I don't think they believe he's better than before, just not scary anymore. Our Prime Minister though, doesn't need to throw cash at Quebec, he simply needs to get out on the street and connect with the people, much like Gilles Duceppe has done so effectively for the last 10 years.

With the three Quebec parties being so close in seats, if ADQ (and official Qeubec National Assembly opposition leader), Mario Dumont, does not come across at least as equally credible, steady, and effective as Duceppe, the next Quebec election could very easily see Gilles Duceppe as premier, and a vote on Quebec "sovereignty" would be just around the corner, I'd say 15 years after the last one (1995), which was 15 years after the one before that (1980).

Remember that Charest's Liberals are in a minority, and if Dumont wants to, he can trigger an election with the help of Duceppe. But I think the new PQ leader will pull a "Duceppetion" of his own, making Dumont think he's better than he is, let him take some of the spotlight, but then crush him in a campaign, rallying even the "autonomy" folks who voted ADQ last time.

Let's face it, the ADQ did well because Boisclair wasn't effective and a lot of soft-sovereignists (see, he's got me saying that word now too) were drawn to Dumont, even if they disagreed with his policies. And that's all Gilles Duceppe, as the new Parti Quebecois leader, would need to win back, take the crown, and lead the Quebec nation to his dreamed statehood.

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