Cheer Gilles Duceppe for torpedoing separatists

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by L. IAN MacDONALD
Sun Media, Friday, June 24, 2011

Gilles Duceppe still doesn’t get it, or perhaps he still doesn’t know what hit him.

Unless Quebecers choose sovereignty, he told Radio-Canada Wednesday, they face assimilation by remaining in Canada.

He predicted Quebecers would go the way of the Acadians and would be “eating gumbo” in 50 years. If someone from English-speaking Canada had made such an insulting comment, Duceppe would have found it “humiliating.” It was precisely because of his musings about another referendum, in a speech to a Parti Quebecois convention on April 17, that the Bloc Quebecois cratered from 47 to four seats in the May 2 election. Duceppe himself lost his own seat in Montreal’s East End by 5,000 votes. In the last two weeks of the campaign, the Bloc plummeted from 39% in the Nanos daily tracking poll to 23% on election day.

They’re still in free-fall. A Nanos poll this week puts the Bloc at 14%, trailing the NDP at 40%, the Conservatives at 24% and the Liberals at 19%. A CROP poll released Thursday puts the NDP at 53% —10 points above their score on election day, the Tories at 18%, the Bloc at 16% and the Liberals at 10%.

No buyers’ remorse there.

Quebecers had already decided by mid-campaign they liked Jack Layton as a good guy, and also liked the narrative of his gallant campaign, symbolized by his spiffy black cane. But it was the dread prospect of another referendum, also symbolized by Duceppe appearing with Jacques Parizeau in the last week of the campaign, which drove voters to the NDP as the federalist default option to the Bloc.

Duceppe is the sole architect of the Bloc’s destruction, but defeat is not without its consolations. Duceppe now receives a pension of $140,765 a year, indexed, from the country he spent 20 years in Parliament trying to destroy. Proof positive Canada is a great democracy and a generous country.

Not content to disappear, Duceppe also criticized the voters for electing many NDP members, including four students from McGill, who spoke limited French.

“We didn’t showcase a lot of pride,” he said.

Aside from warning of assimilation, and lecturing voters on their choices, Duceppe offered a tepid endorsement of PQ leader Pauline Marois: “I support Mme. Marois. She was elected — we have to work with her,” he said.

He added the PQ leader should talk sovereignty, “before during and after a campaign.” His comments come in the midst of the fracturing of the PQ caucus — six members have left in the last month, four who think Marois should run on sovereignty, one who thinks she shouldn’t, and one who’s being investigated for allegedly skimming party funds. Following a caucus Wednesday, Marois revealed she’d extracted loyalty pledges from her remaining members of the legislature.

The PQ’s latest existential crisis showed up in the CROP poll. Having led the unpopular Liberal government of Jean Charest by double digits for the last year, the Liberals rebounded 12 points this month to lead the PQ by 35% to 29%, with the Action democratique at 17%. And this in spite of the government’s dissatisfaction rating of 63%.

The PQ’s implosion is partly a consequence of the Bloc’s disintegration in the federal election. It’s thanks to Duceppe the separatists have disappeared, starting with him. In that sense, he’s earned his pension.

 
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