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Duceppe is all talk - save for sovereignty

Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe unveils his campaign slogan - 'Let's talk' -on March 28, 2011 in Montreal.


Gilles Duceppe's theme for the Bloc Québécois campaign is literally all talk.

The Bloc slogan, "Parlons Quebec," or "Let's talk Quebec," urges voters to talk about Quebec's culture, nationhood, interests and values.

Critics will point out that given the Quebec-only Bloc can't win the federal election May 2, the party can do little more than talk.

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Discussion, Mr. Duceppe countered, is one of the pillars of democracy. Plus, as he points out, the Bloc wielded power as the Official Opposition in the 1990s and has controlled the fate of the government a few times in recent minority governments.

One thing the campaign literature unveiled Monday does not talk about is Quebec sovereignty. Mr. Duceppe didn't mention it, either, in his speech unveiling the campaign themes.

He bristled when this was pointed out.

"We haven't struck the word, come on!" Mr. Duceppe said. "Do other parties announce in their advertising that they're federalist? People know who we are. Does anybody not know we are sovereigntists? I'm happy and proud to be a sovereigntist."

Mr. Duceppe has little interest in pounding away at the national question in a federal campaign. He can't create an independent Quebec from Ottawa, plus the Bloc already has a near-monopoly on the separatist vote. The Bloc has become a safe, strategic parking place for soft nationalists and lukewarm federalists who dislike the national parties and their leaders.

The Bloc already holds nearly two thirds of Quebec seats. In order to dominate the province's electoral map even further, the Bloc needs is to attract more people who don't have a particular zeal for an independent Quebec.

Mr. Duceppe touched again briefly on all the coalition talk. Polls consistently show a majority of Quebeckers would be happy to live with a coalition government, while the rest of Canada is much more chilly to the idea.

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The Bloc Leader said discussion and agreements are the only way through minority parliaments. The other leaders should accept that fact, he said.

"The sad thing is that in Canada, Harper is trying to play on an anti-Quebec sentiment instead of having a democratic [stand]" Mr. Duceppe said. "When we have a result like we've had the last few years, we should discuss with the others. Come to an agreement. Not on everything of course, but what can be done should be done. He refuses to do that."

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