Sovereignty movement strengthened : Duceppe

dimanche 17 avril 2011

Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe (L) speaks with Pauline Marois, leader of the Parti Quebecois, during the Parti Quebecois’ national convention in Montreal April 17, 2011.
Photograph by : Christine Muschi, REUTERS

By Philip Authier MONTREAL - Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois’ stunning 93 per cent confidence vote strengthens the sovereignty movement and brings Quebec a step closer to sovereignty, says the leader of the Bloc Québécois.

But Gilles Duceppe skirted around questions about his own future given his previously expressed interest in leading the PQ and possibly becoming premier of Quebec.

"I am not ill at ease at all with this question," Duceppe said smiling when reporters asked if the score means the end of his dreams.

"I am working hand-in-hand with Pauline Marois. I was very happy to hear this result, just as much as Pauline. My goal is to make Quebec a country. I came into politics for that and I’m trying very hard to achieve it."

At a PQ party policy convention Saturday, 1,700 delegates voted 93.08 per cent in favour of Marois’ leadership. It is a new record for a PQ leader - beating even former leader Jacques Parizeau who is considered, next to René Lévesque, the most popular PQ leader.

Enter Duceppe, who - for a period of about 24 hours about former leader André Boisclair’s resignation - had his hat in the ring to run. Marois did too at the time, leading Duceppe to eventually withdraw. But there has always been speculation that he would try again if Marois got in trouble in a party known for chewing up its leaders on cue.

The vote Saturday changed all that.

Arriving for a scheduled speech to PQ delegates - many of whom are also Bloc members - as part of his federal election campaign, Duceppe took the high road.

"Bravo Pauline Marois," Duceppe said taking to the stage. "Bravo to the future first woman premier of Quebec."

Duceppe played the unity card, stressing he needs the help of the PQ to mobilize the sovereignty movement to win federal ridings. The Bloc, he said, will return the favour.

"My friends, I say this often, before being péquistes and bloquistes, we are all sovereignists. We are going to finish the campaign side-by-side.

"More united then ever. We have only one task to accomplish. Elect the maximum number of sovereignists in Ottawa and then we go to the next phase. Electing a PQ government.

"A strong Bloc in Ottawa. A PQ in power in Quebec. And everything re-becomes possible."

Later, he added to reporters : "When there is a sovereignist government it brings the possibility of becoming a country closer.

"When the sovereignty movement is united it is that much stronger."

pauthier@montrealgazette.com


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