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Former Bloc MP rebukes PQ, backs Québec Solidaire

Bloc MP Suzanne Tremblay is shown in 1995.

TOM HANSON/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Former Bloc Québécois MP Suzanne Tremblay has turned her back on the Parti Québécois and is throwing her support behind the left-wing, pro-sovereignty party Québec Solidaire.

Ms. Tremblay, who represented the federal riding of Rimouski-Neigette-Témiscouata-Les Basques from 1993 to 2004, accused the PQ of being disrespectful of local party members when it parachuted an outside candidate to run in the April 7 election.

The PQ chose Harold Lebel, a party staff member loyal to Leader Pauline Marois, to run in the Rimouski riding instead of local activist Thomas Brian-Gionest.

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"I cannot accept having a candidate parachuted into my riding," Mr. Tremblay said.

The decision to have Mr. Lebel run was just the tip of the iceberg for Ms. Tremblay, who attacked the PQ on several fronts.

The former MP accused the PQ of drifting to the right by recruiting billionaire media magnate Pierre Karl Péladeau. She recalled that when Mr. Péladeau held the reins of the Quebecor media empire, he was responsible for no fewer than 14 lockouts in companies he controlled. The longest lockout took place at the Journal de Montréal, which lasted more than two years and saw the hiring of replacement workers as part of a strategy that sidestepped the province's labour laws.

"For Mr. Péladeau or someone like him to be allowed to impose a lockout for two years and that the business be allowed to continue operating as though nothing had happened ... there is a hole in the anti-scab law," Ms. Tremblay said. "It needs reform. It is an urgent matter to protect Quebec workers."

While in opposition, the PQ tabled a private members' bill that would have banned the use of replacement workers that worked from home via the Internet, and thus would not have to cross a picket line.

Ms. Marois recently confirmed she had no plans to introduce such a bill if her party is re-elected.

Ms. Tremblay's criticism of the PQ may resonate in other parts of the province, especially in Montreal where Québec Solidaire has mounted a successful campaign in attracting the more progressive segment of PQ supporters disappointed with the direction the party has taken.

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Québec Solidaire elected two members to the National Assembly in 2012 and are gambling that more voter support will come their way after Thursday's leader's debate, where party co-leader Françoise David plans to attack the PQ with her party's strong social democratic agenda.

Ms. Tremblay also had reservations about the PQ's secular charter, which bans the wearing of overt religious symbols by public servants. She said the measure target the wearing of the hijab and discriminates against Muslim women.

"I cannot support that we associate the wearing of the veil to overt religious symbols. He show a great deal more ignorance than it does reality," she said.

Québec Solidaire MNA Amir Khadir welcomed Ms. Tremblay, standing by her during a press conference on Thursday in Rimouski.

"Ms. Tremblay's voice will carry throughout Quebec well beyond the boundaries of Rimouski and the Lower St. Lawrence [region]. I am certain it will have a considerable impact," Mr. Khadir said.

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About the Author
Quebec City political correspondent

Rhéal Séguin is a journalist and political scientist. Born and educated in southern Ontario, he completed his undergraduate degree in political science at York University and a master's degree in political science at the Université du Québec à Montréal.Rhéal has practised journalism since 1978, first with Radio-Canada in radio and television and then with CBC Radio. More

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