MONTREAL — Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe is confident he can replace the "orange wave'' in Quebec with a blue one in the Oct. 19 election — and he even expects to win back his old riding.
The New Democrats won 59 seats in 2011, including Laurier-Sainte-Marie, which Duceppe had held since 1990.
He stepped down as Bloc leader after the debacle before returning in June to replace Mario Beaulieu, whose tenure was marked by internal party strife.
Duceppe said Friday he's "pretty optimistic'' about winning back the east-end working-class riding.
"I think it would not have been a good signal to go somewhere else,'' he told reporters.
"I want to be back in a place where I know people and where people know me pretty well also.''
Duceppe added that people he met on Friday thanked him for coming back and said they would help him win.
"I often say it's like football, if you get on the field and you think you've won in advance, you won't win — you have to work hard,'' he said.
But Duceppe would not bite when a reporter asked him if he was ready to predict how many of the 78 Quebec ridings his sovereigntist party would win.
"I always refuse to answer that question, you've always tried, but again I would say'' 'nice try, but no cigar'."
Taking aim at the federalist NDP, Duceppe said what's important is to have people standing up for Quebec.
"Nobody can deny there's an important number of sovereigntists and also nationalists wanting their interests to be defended in Ottawa and in the last four years that was not the case,'' he said.
Duceppe also noted that Quebec has largely voted against Stephen Harper's Conservatives for years, but that vote-splitting by opposition parties in the rest of Canada has allowed the Tories to win.
Duceppe, 68, became leader in 1997 and, under his stewardship, the party won 44, 38, 54, 51 and 49 seats before the 2011 meltdown.
The Bloc won a mere four seats that year as Jack Layton's NDP roared through the province.
The party had two MPs in the Commons at dissolution.
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