Bloc plans to provoke Clarity Act debate

OTTAWA – The Bloc Quebecois is trying to put its New Democratic Party rivals on the hot seat.

The Bloc, which was decimated by the NDP in Quebec in the last federal election, apparently plans to use an attack on the Clarity Act to create tensions within the NDP.

Bloc Leader Daniel Paille won’t say what’s in the proposed legislation, which will be tabled Friday, but insists Ottawa has no business making any decisions affecting Quebec’s future.

The Clarity Act, which was created by the federal Liberals, was passed 12 years ago and sets the rules for future Quebec elections.

It’s a touchy subject in Quebec. And it risks being particularly touchy for Canada’s new official Opposition.

The NDP includes staunch Canadian federalists and equally staunch Quebec nationalists, many of whom were elected in last year’s federal election. The party faces the dual challenge of appealing to voters across Canada while holding onto the Quebec gains it made last year.

The Bloc has been smarting from its crushing defeat in the 2011 federal election where it was knocked from dominance in Quebec to four seats by the NDP, which counted former sovereigntists among its candidates.

Most NDP MPs won’t say how they’ll vote on the Bloc bill, which is supposed to be tabled Friday.

But NDP MP Yvon Godin says the Clarity Act isn’t necessarily in opposition to the NDP’s own Sherbrooke Declaration, which says a result of 50 per cent plus one is sufficient to decide a referendum.

“We’re able to live with the Clarity Act (and) at the same time the Sherbrooke Declaration,” said Godin, who represents Acadie-Bathurt in New Brunswick.

In 2000, British Columbia MP Libby Davies voted against the Clarity Act.

The Liberals say they’ll oppose any attempt to tear up the Clarity Act while a spokesman for the governing Conservatives says the Bloc is just revisiting old battles.