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Bloc Headed

What Duceppe's bad week means for the PQ.

By Richard Warnica 15 May 2007 | TheTyee.ca

Richard Warnica is a senior editor at The Tyee.

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Watching the Quebec election unfold in March, it was hard to imagine that things could get worse in the short term for the Parti Quebecois.

For the first time since the early 1970s, the party had been reduced to third party status. Worse, potentially, for a party whose raison d’etre is the creation of an independent Quebec state, more than two out of every three voters picked parties opposed to another sovereignty referendum.

But things have still managed to go downhill. Almost comically so.

Last week, party insiders prodded leader Andre Boisclair into stepping down. He was too urban, too Montreal (and just maybe too gay), some said. And besides, his sovereignty bona fides were, at best, questionable.

So into the breach stepped Gilles Duceppe, briefly.

The leader of the Bloc Quebecois was rumoured to be behind much of the anti-Boisclair sniping. And his interest in the PQ job was hardly a secret. But when the time came to to seize the prize, Duceppe, to put it kindly, choked.

Duceppe declared his intention to run last Friday, retracted on Saturday and was back in Ottawa begging his caucus for support by Monday. The entire spectacle was a humiliatingly amateur performance for a politician who had previously been so well regarded for his political instincts.

Columnists and House of Commons colleagues alike have spent the week hammering Duceppe’s ineptitude and the impact it will have on the sovereigntist movement. As Daniel Tencer wrote in Maisonneuve’s Media Scout, “[i]f the Quebec sovereigntist movement were a medical patient, its vital signs would be flatlining”

Still, as I wrote at election time, Quebec politics are just beginning a major shift. And even now, in their lowest moment in more than thirty years, the Parti Quebecois are far from dead. They sit only 12 seats behind the governing Liberals in the National Assembly. And where they'll end up when all is said and done remains unclear.

But for now, with one leader gone, his would be replacement humbled and a twice failed former leadership candidate almost certain to assume the mantle, things are not looking good for the PQ.  [Tyee]

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