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Bloc Quebecois deputy leader Michel Gauthier speaks in the House of Commons on June 23, 2005.JIM YOUNG/Reuters

One of the Bloc Québécois's fieriest ex-MPs is blasting the party for running a bland campaign that seems designed to avoid real issues.

Former House leader Michel Gauthier, who was known for his impassioned outbursts in Question Period from 1993 to 2007, said that Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe has been trying to avoid the limelight over the first two weeks of the campaign.

"I have the impression that he is running an aseptic campaign," Mr. Gauthier said in a radio interview on Friday. "Politics, in my view, should be lively."

Mr. Gauthier said Mr. Duceppe is relying on a cadre of advisers who are urging him to stay away from controversies. "He is not even making the news sometimes."

At a news conference in the Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean region, Mr. Duceppe responded that he is running an open campaign, in which he takes all the questions from the media. The Bloc Leader is currently finishing off a tour of the province's more rural ridings and faraway regions, in which he has focused on issues such as unemployment and the struggles of the fishing and the forestry industries.

He should grab more attention starting on Sunday, when he makes an appearance on one of the province's top rated talk shows, and then during next week's debates.



Mr. Duceppe will face more opposition in Quebec now that the Conservatives have launched a bus tour of the province, overseen by the party's Quebec lieutenant, Christian Paradis. The Conservatives are trying to put an end to the fact the Bloc campaign can go unchallenged in the province for days, while the leaders of the other parties are campaigning in other parts of Canada.

"We're looking forward to going on the road to talk about our accomplishment and our projects for all regions of Quebec," Mr. Paradis said in a statement. "People are fed-up by the insults and campaign of fear of the Bloc and Gilles Duceppe."

The Tories are running a campaign in Quebec that derides the Bloc as being Montreal-centric, with a pitch that the Conservative Party will bring power to rural regions if they elect government MPs.

The tactic seems to have struck a nerve in the Bloc's camp, which has unveiled a new television advertisement that adapts the Bloc's campaign slogan - "Parlons Qc" (Let's talk, Quebec) - to say "Parlons régions" (Let's talk about the regions).