A Bloc Québécois MP running for re-election in northern Quebec apologized Friday for suggesting an opponent can't win because he's aboriginal.
Bloc candidate Yvon Lévesque suggested the NDP made a mistake running Roméo Saganash, a longtime friend of his, in the riding of Abitibi-Baie-James-Nunavik-Eeyou.
"Certain voters will not choose the New Democratic Party now that they're running an aboriginal candidate," Mr. Lévesque told the news website, Rue Frontenac.
Mr. Lévesque received an early morning phone call from his leader, Gilles Duceppe.
"I was not happy," Mr. Duceppe said. "It's a bad analysis. People don't vote for Cree because they're Cree or Francophones because they're Francophone. Votes are individual."
Mr. Lévesque sent out a statement of apology. "I hope my unfortunate words won't harm important advances aboriginal communities have made and that the Bloc Québécois has fought for for years, " he said.
But an apology does not go far enough, according to NDP Leader Jack Layton. He said Mr. Duceppe has no choice but to dismiss his candidate.
"To have a member of Parliament, a member of the Bloc, say that the NDP has made a mistake by having a first nations leader as our candidate because the NDP is somehow going to lose votes, is essentially suggesting that the citizens of his riding are racist and that's somehow okay and going to work for the benefit of the Bloc. That is totally unacceptable," Mr. Layton said Friday on a campaign stop in Sudbury.
"Mr. Duceppe needs to take the strong action of asking that candidate to step out of the Bloc team."
The Bloc Leader, however, said an apology is sufficient.
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