Duceppe hands Layton the reins to Quebec - Macleans.ca

Duceppe hands Layton the reins to Quebec

NDP is “the last chance for a federalist party to do something concrete for the nation of Quebec”


Gilles Duceppe took all of five minutes to run through the history and victories of the party he led has led for 11 years before announcing he was stepping down as leader of the Bloc Québécois. “I respect the choice and I assume the responsibility in the name of the Bloc Québécois,” Duceppe said serenely. “As a result, I’m quitting my functions. In the next few days, the party’s leadership will figure out what happens next.”

It will be a rough hangover for Bloc supporters tomorrow morning. Having lost official party status, the Bloc is now in for a reckoning—official “long walk in the snow” territory, to borrow a line from the Bloc’s First Nemesis, Pierre Trudeau.

The handful Bloc MPs with a job will go to Ottawa as orphans: Duceppe, the party’s first elected MP and the leader of the party since 1997, fell to the NDP. So too did its parliamentary leader Pierre Paquette, along with campaign organizer Mario Laframboise. Ditto Deputy Leader Christiane Gagnon. Good lord, even Ruth Ellen Brosseau, the NDP’s unilingual Anglophone candidate who spent a good part of the campaign sunning herself in Las Vegas, bowled over longtime Bloc candidate Guy André.

Duceppe arrived from his hotel to a room only three-quarters full, and a party that felt like a wake than anything else. At 11 o’clock, with only two Bloc MPs elected, the sparse crowd barely looked up from their beers as losses came in. (They did manage to boo like hell when Justin Trudeau’s victory was announced, however.)

“Politics is an extreme sport,” said Vivianne Barbot who, despite having lost to Justin Trudeau in Papineau, was one of the few people still managing a smile. “I didn’t see it coming.” Asked to comment on the loss happening in front of her, Barbot chuckled. “You’re watching it just like me.”

There was some cold comfort in the room, as a group of Bloc faithful knew that many of the now-jobless Bloc MPs would decamp for Québec City. The Parti Québécois just recently dusted off its sovereigntist raison-d’être at its convention and will need help selling it to Quebec in the next provincial election, expected in the next two years. And Duceppe echoed the sentiments of many in the crowd when he said the NDP represented “the last chance for a federalist party to do something concrete for the nation of Quebec.”

Duceppe left the stage to cries of “On veut un pays!” (“We want a country!”) He then slowly walked out of the room, hugging everyone in site. “We are really in shit,” a young Bloquiste with tears in her eyes told a friend as Duceppe exited the room.


Duceppe hands Layton the reins to Quebec

  1. I have never liked the 'Bloq' because of their purpose, but I do like Duceppe personally and am sorry to see him go.

    However, I'm sure the PQ will soon have a lot of high-powered names in it's ranks.

  2. He must have had a hell of a night!

  3. This comment was deleted.

    • I wholeheartedly second that!!

    • Aye. Thank you for finding a warm body (you did do that, right, NDP?) for each Quebec riding in order to ride this wave of Jack-mania.

    • Well said!

  4. It is not at all clear Jack has killed the Bloq. What he has done is buy Canada perhaps its last great chance to convince Quebec that it is better off inside the fold then out. For that i am humbly grateful to the NDP, and even more so to the people of La Belle province. Merci Beaucoup.

    • Personally I've never understood why one has to be convinced to be a part of your own country.

      What's there to convince them of? How are they any better or worse off than any other province?

      What is it that is so horrible about our nation that we supposedly have to do something to win "them" over?

      Honestly, I think it's a false dichotomy created by the politicos for leverage. Many Quebecers honestly believe they should be their own nation, or that they already are essentially, but the politicians use this to their own advantage.

      We're a country of different provinces and territories working towards a common ideal. We're all different and we all bring different strengths to the table.

      Either you're into that or you're not. Decide once and for all and live with that decision.

      • That's fine if you're into decentralism, or non symmetrical federalism. Or whatever they're calling it these days.
        If only it were that simple.I think you are indulging in a wee bit of revisionism. Do you honestly think we went through Meech lake and the repatriation of the constitution just for the fun of it?

        It's simply a quirk of geography and history. If all the Francophones had been distributed around the country it wouldn't likely a been such an issue. As it is they think they're a nation with special rights. Many of us still think they're just another province.

        • I'm not sure about the "revisionism" portion of your comment, but I do agree that Meech Lake and the Charlotte Town accord were both very divisive.

          I think this comes back to the combative nature of the process itself.

          It also doesn't help when one of the 10 prospective "equal" partners insists that they should get special mention and special powers over everyone else. Frankly, entrenching the "us" versus "them" when formalizing the "marriage" document of a country, seems to miss the entire point.

          As long as Quebec is unwilling to be part of the family on equal terms with everyone else, the process can go nowhere, and the separatists will just run referendum after referendum ad nauseum for the rest of freaking time until they get a "yes" after which the discussion is finally over? Nice set up there eh?

          • Sorry bout that just tired and a bit cranky – my team lost last night- badly.

            Well i agree that part of the problem is that Q doesn't seem to be just satisfied with being just equal. Although i believe that view has been much entrenched by the political class.

            I'm not sure what you can do to reduce the combative nature of the process without simply caving or accomadating. [Which would be fine if the ROC didn't get upset about it. Jack will never succeed in squaring this circle. But i wish him luck.] …which is largely what federalists have been doing since Trudeau's time – and even he had to pander on occasion.

          • No worries, I think most of us political types are running on too little sleep today and prone to a bit of sleep deprivation grumpiness. LOL

            From my perspective there is no Canada without Quebec. Our history over the past couple centuries ties us together irrecoverably whether we organize ourselves as one nation or two. I think a Canada without Quebec would leave us all a little poorer for it.

            At some point I hope that the notion of national unity stops seeming like a loss to those who fight against it, but instead the gain for all that it really is.

          • Agree.

        • I don't see what your point is. Quebec is a "quirk of geography and history"? So is Canada! And you and I are just coincidences of biology. Ulltimately, everything in the world is an imponderable in terms of origins. But meanwhile, 84% of Quebecers want a secular social democratic government, compared to 50% in the rest of Canada. That is a significant difference.

          "they think they're a nation" — well, that is where democratic nations come from. How would you invalidate that? How would you prove "false belief" in a nation? Is there some sort of natural DNA test for true or false nationhood?

          • I'm not really with you. It was purely a figure of speech…Quebec is obviously what it is…and if it weren't bundled into one province there wouldn't be the problem of one province thinking it needs out – and i suppose we'd likely all be bilingual…just an academic exercise.

            They think there are a nation obviously causes a bit of a problem if we think we're a nation and they happen to be precariously a part of it. Granted there is a different value put on the word depending whether it is in F or E. Ufortunately i don't speak French so i can't comment.

      • Sorry, I shouldn't have said "you're simply wrong". I should have said, it's very debateable. Or it depends what you mean.

        There are striking differences of values among Canadians, and those differences are patterned by social class, language and region. In Quebec, however, there is a consensus around values of secularism and social democracy. 84% sure looks like a Quebec "national consensus" to me.

  5. The Bloq has never liked the rest of Canada and there intentions were purely about wanting to make sure that everyone in Quebec hates the english language…they don't accept anyone who can't speak french. The pure image of the "true quebecois" is: Hate the english speaking people, hate the rest of Canada because they speak english, make sure that everything in Quebec is written in french in bold letters and the english must not be visible…So tell me this all you separatist, how are theses things going to create jobs, how is this going to create revenue, open doors to opportunity, how does this help health care, how does this help in time of ressesion???? GOOD RIDDANCE BLOQ!!!!! THERE IS NO NEED FOR YOU TO EXIST!

  6. Wait a sec? No mention of how the writer predicted only a week ago that the NDP would only get 7 or 8 seats in Quebec and that the Bloc would triumph again?

  7. Quote: [Duceppe] said the NDP represented “the last chance for a federalist party to do something concrete for the nation of Quebec.”

    I think he's right.

    • And I think that's really weird.

      What is it we're supposed to "do" for the "nation of Quebec" anyways?

      What the hell does that mean?

      No honestly, I'm really wondering what that's code for.

      • Basically, my take (and sorry if I came across as belligerent; just like you said, I'm really tired, and not very happy today) is that Quebecers want to do things with government that other Canadians don't want to do; and Quebecers are adamantly opposed to some of the things that other Canadians really want to do. Having said that, there are up to 50% of people in the ROC whose values are very similar to Quebecers', but that 50% is not effectively represented by our electoral system, nor by our media.

        I don't know how the NDP is going to address that, but I think that's what Duceppe's saying: Ok you guys, go ahead, try to square that circle.

        Unlike the Bloc, the NDP is at least going to TRY!

      • Well, the motivation behind the sovereignist movement seems to me to be…

        – Control over Quebec's international relations
        – Control over Quebec's taxes
        – Control over Quebec's laws

        The federalist response to that was that Quebec could attain at least part of that in the federation… that it did not need to separate. Therefore, I think that what the federal government is supposed to "do", in my opinion, is allow Quebec to achieve its goals while staying in Canada.

        Lots of people in Quebec see themselves as one of two founding nations… not one in ten provinces (I agree that the two founding nations vision of canada can be problematic when it comes to the importance of the first nations and outside-of-quebec francophones).

        So basically, I think most quebecers want more than simple provincial status. Some through separation, others through asymmetrical federalism… but it will be hard keeping Quebec in without aknowledging some of its aspirations.

        This is how I see the situation… I don't know if it makes sense… as someone said earlier, we are all slightly sleep deprived right now.

  8. Well first off, I think you're confusing vote turn out with public opinion. When more than 30% of the electorate doesn't show up to vote, that in itself is an indictment of the choices, one way or another. It doesn't tell you which way each individual leads, but more often than not it's emblematic of a depressed progressive vote base.

    Besides which, when we talk about ideals and principles, these are usually broad based things that people can agree on while still being very different as people.

    And for the record, I think characterising the ROC as a monolithic group of english churchies who want nothing more than lower taxes to fuel their big cars, is so simplistic as to be ridiculous.

    I see no real definable differences between any of the regions of Canada that justify the notion that working together toward common goals is somehow less sensible than cleaving off into our own little fiefdoms.

    • I'm not saying it's monolithic, but I'm saying that it's a significant social force in the ROC that hardly exists in Quebec.

      I think there is a definable difference in political-economic values. I think that's an objective observation, which does not mean it's unchangeable, but it's certainly there now. Whether that justifies one course of action or another is a moral-political judgement, and I do hope that Canada can stay united. I just think that a renewed sovereigntist movement will be completely understandable, and the sovereigntist movement is about much more than wanting undeserved cash from Ottawa and rights to dance folk dances. It is motivated, not entirely but in large part, by this difference in social values that we see in our 2011 election results.

      Canadians basically make a similar argument when we talk about how we're different from Americans, and why we don't just join them in one country.

      Maybe I'm wrong. But thanks for reading. Cheers.

  9. I guess Hitler had the same plans for the rest of Europe…

  10. Ok, I agree that most Canadians are honestly working towards something they believe is good. But I think there is a lot of divergence in terms of what is believed to be "good", and I do think that some of those beliefs are more irrational or destructive (towards community and natural environment) than others, so it's hard for me to just accept them if they're being imposed on me. Canadians are increasingly divided between rich and poor, rural and urban, I would venture to say that even generational differences are increasing. I think it's our embrace of neoliberalism that is causing this, I don't think it's because we're losing our character; our approach to the economy is making a shared life much harder for us, but even that judgement about the economy is a source of division.

    • In the end I think we all play a part in reinforcing the dynamics being played out on the political stage. If it's differences we focus on, then the list will be endless. Worse, political parties often exaggerate those differences as a way of gaining leverage or differentiating themselves from their "opponents".

      So how can I can disagree with you directly that there ARE big differences? Naturally I can't.

      I can say however that while building something together takes compromise and effort, the result is often more than the parts that went into it, and that's what makes a great nation out of disparate regions.

      Maybe that's too philosophical for politics, but at the end of day I can't understand how the concept of working together toward a common good is somehow less appealing than shutting ourselves off from each other.

  11. Personally I would have liked Duceppe working for the federalist side, he would have been good at it. As for NDP surge in Quebec (in many ridings quite irrational choices), it somewhat answered why Quebec has been a have not province.

  12. If the majority of Quebecers really just don't identify as Canadians and don't see any benefit to being a partner in Confederation while feeling somehow stifled culturally, then I suppose they should separate, but it seems incredible to me that this could be true with the level of freedom we have in this country, and the incredible amount of power provinces have in our federation.

    This also creates a much more complex problem than people seem willing to admit, unless you get unanimous support, which naturally you won't. I can't help thinking that this entire separatism idea isn't well thought out at all.

    Separating siamese twins is likely an easier proposal than separating a nation sharing over 150 years of history.

    What about the Canadians who don't want to separate? If a province can separate, then what about all those rural communities, native communities and possibly even cities whose populations overwhelmingly disagree?

    The legal, social and economic ramifications are massive.

    And for the sake of what again?

  13. Then I think we shouldn't even try. I agree with Phil. Why should we convince them to be part of something they don't want to be part of, if that's true? Especially since it costs us so much for the insult?

    • I am as puzzled as you are. I don't understand why the federal parties concentrated so much energy and ressources to keep Quebec in. It seems that all it did was convince a good amount of quebecers that they are entitled to a special status in the federation, at the expense of the ROC.

      If the federal had shown their colors from the start (that they could not, in fact, offer Quebec a special status), Quebec could have made an informed decision: either act like a province, or leave. But now we are stuck in a situation where no one gets what it wants.

      Maybe with the collapase of the Liberal party yesterday, we will see a decline in the united-canada-at-all-cost idea. With enough pragmatism, I'm sure we can work something out.

      I don't know…

    • So just don't come in buses and planes for the next referendum idiots.

  14. umm, you actually have to "sign" the Constitution to even be "in the fold" ???