POLITICS

Gilles Duceppe: PQ Ties During Election Campaign Nothing New

08/25/2015 02:50 EDT | Updated 08/25/2016 05:59 EDT

RIMOUSKI, Que. — It's not unusual for the Bloc Quebecois to work closely on a federal election campaign with the provincial Parti Quebecois, Gilles Duceppe said Tuesday.

The Bloc leader spent the past two days with PQ Leader Pierre Karl Peladeau in Rimouski, Que., where the provincial party is holding a pre-session caucus meeting.

The Bloc leader paid the caucus a brief visit Tuesday before boarding a flight to Quebec's North Shore to continue his campaign.

Duceppe and Peladeau, who have appeared together multiple times since the federal campaign began in early August, crossed paths again twice Monday.

The Bloc leader said there is a history of co-operation between the Bloc and its provincial ally in previous federal, provincial and referendum campaigns.

Peladeau has remained cautious about the Bloc's possible results at the polls come Oct. 19, and said on Monday he wouldn't draw any conclusions from them about the future of his own party.

But that didn't prevent Peladeau from appearing with Duceppe during a PQ-organized event Monday night in Rimouski.

PQ house leader Stephane Bedard said there was no risk associated with campaigning with the Bloc, which went into the campaign holding just two seats after being nearly swept out of the province by the New Democrats in 2011.

"We all have an interest in being side-by-side as Mr. Peladeau and Mr. Duceppe have been from the beginning," Bedard said. "It shows an image of unity."

Duceppe said he welcomed the PQ support, including four party staffers loaned to the Bloc campaign.

The Bloc leader said his task is to bring the sovereigntist vote home to his embattled party. "I'm there to convince them and I'm working on that and I'll keep on working like that for the next two months."

Duceppe noted that candidates tied to other provincial sovereigntist parties — Quebec solidaire and Option nationale — are running federally for the Bloc.

Duceppe stressed the importance of strategic voting at the PQ event on Monday.

"Strategic voting is to put our faith in the men and women who share our interests, our ideals, our projects," Duceppe said.

Duceppe noted the collaboration isn't without precedent — former PQ leader Jacques Parizeau and ex-Bloc leader Lucien Bouchard also worked in tandem.

"Through all these years, there have been constant efforts of each other, to work together because we share the same goal," Duceppe said.

On Monday, Duceppe unveiled his maritime strategy in the event of separation — a standalone Quebec coast guard with bases in Gaspe, Rimouski and Iles-de-la-Madeleine.

Peladeau took it one step further on Tuesday, suggesting an independent Quebec would seek to recover its share of federal assets such as CF-18 fighter-bombers, Canada Post buildings, coast guard ships and other federal infrastructure in the province such as bridges.

Duceppe said those musings are also nothing new.

"I've always been discussing those questions during previous electoral campaigns, it's not the first time we're doing so," Duceppe said.

— With files from Alexandre Robillard in Rimouski, Que.

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