Skip to main content

Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe greets former premier Jacques Parizeau during a campaign stop near Montreal on April 25, 2011.Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

The federalist party leaders are all trying to win votes in Quebec by making promises that would trample on the province's programs and jurisdictions, former Parti Québécois premier Jacques Parizeau said Monday.

Hoping to boost the fortunes of the Bloc Québécois one week before the May 2 election, Mr. Parizeau ridiculed the fact that Conservatives, Liberals and New Democrats are making promises in areas such as education, health care, home care and child care.

"It makes sense in the rest of Canada," Mr. Parizeau said, "but not for us - we've already done these things."

Mr. Parizeau said the Bloc is as relevant as ever, explaining that a provincial watchdog is needed to increase federal transfers to Quebec and secure agreements like compensation for the harmonization of the provincial sales tax.

Mr. Parizeau said the Bloc is needed to ensure Quebec doesn't lose out on regional benefits tied to the purchase of new fighter jets, oil exploration in the St. Lawrence and ship-building projects.

"Canada's federal system is full of traps. It's time to get out of it," Mr. Parizeau said.

He said that achieving independence is long and painful, but added: "It will be done."

"I'm sending out a message to the supporters of the Parti Québécois, to unite and mobilize with all of your energy to support the Bloc in this last week," Mr. Parizeau said.

Looking frail and speaking slowly for more than 20 minutes, the 80-year-old separatist icon was headlining a Bloc campaign event on the south shore of Montreal. He was followed by Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe in front a packed campaign office in the riding of St-Lambert, in which a few hundred supporters waved small fleur-de-lis flags.

Mr. Parizeau's appearance is part of a last-ditch effort by the Bloc to solidify its sovereigntist vote and hope to keep its seats, knowing full well that it faces tighter races given a spike in NDP support in Quebec.

In a 25-minute speech, Mr. Duceppe continued with the appeal to sovereigntist voters, hoping to scare off nationalists who are currently tempted by the NDP. The Bloc Leader said that on crucial decisions - in "moments of truth" - the NDP will always side with other federal parties and oppose the will of Quebec.

He used the example of federal loan guarantees for hydro-electric development in Newfoundland, which were proposed by the Conservatives and won the support of the Liberal Party and the NDP.

Mr. Duceppe said that all Quebeckers, whether left-wing or right-wing, oppose the move.

"The three [federal leaders]play on the same team, for Canada. Jack Layton's on the left wing, Michael Ignatieff plays centre and Stephen Harper is on the right," Mr. Duceppe said. "They've been on the power play for too long, it's time to play at even strength, nation to nation."