SEPT-ILES, Que. - A few hours from V-Day, which is likely to be very decisive for the future of the Bloc Quebecois, its leader, Gilles Duceppe, didn't pull any punches and said the other three parties are not Quebec's "friends."
"Take a guy like Mulcair: he was a lawyer for Alliance Quebec who was fighting against Bill 101. He's not Quebec's friend. Trudeau doesn't even recognize Quebec's right to self-determination. He's not Quebec's friend," he went on.
"Harper isn't either, but that's self-evident."
Duceppe, who is convinced his party is finishing the campaign with a strong wind at its back, believes the Quebecois are aware that the Bloc is distinct from the other three parties.
"I believe that the other three parties — which I call the 'Bloc Canada' — are basically the same on many, many issues."
The Bloc leader is convinced he made his case during the two French-language debates aired respectively on Radio-Canada and TVA. He believes he's scored points by calling out the NDP for talking out both sides of its mouth about the Energy East project as well as on the niqab issue.
He also called out his adversaries on their willingness to dip in the employment insurance fund.
"I think people have realized that what the Bloc says and the other three say is very different," Duceppe stated.
Steven Harper, who hopes to make gains in Quebec, has repeatedly stated that "conservative values are Quebec's values," a statement the Bloc leader thinks is ludicrous.
"I'd like to know what Quebec values he's on about. If he's talking about crossing our rivers and lakes with the TransCanada project, I think we're very far from Quebec's values regarding the environment," he thundered during a press briefing.
"And that's not to mention his boundless love for the monarchy that drove him to remove a Pellan painting to replace it by portraits of Elizabeth; that's pretty far from Quebec values, too."
Gilles Duceppe is not naive; he knows he won't always be able to come to the Bloc Quebecois' rescue.
His party is the one with the greatest number of candidates under 30, and for a reason: making sure the independence movement stays alive and strong.
"We need a succession, that's for sure. There has to be people ready to pick up where we left, we're not getting any younger..."
Duceppe says he caught up on the last four years "very quickly" after his last minute return to the helm. He had to get to know his candidates in a bit of a hurry.
"We did undertake this campaign in a head wind, so we had to work harder. I was asked to come back in June; as you can imagine, it changes one's life."
The party leader says he came back out of "conviction," but also because he believed it was his "duty." Everybody told him that no one else would be able to lead the party through this extended campaign.
And even though it's almost over, Duceppe won't just yet proceed to the post-mortem of his seventh campaign as leader of the Bloc Quebecois.
He is confident that a "sizable delegation" of Bloc candidates will be there to act as a counterweight to a minority government on Oct. 19.
If that is not the case, will he resign as he did in 2011? "I left because I had no other choice. But this time around, I will win. When you win, you stay, it's that simple."
Other excerpts from the HuffPost interview:
First, Canada should welcome 10,000 before year's end. After that, Parliament will have had time to sit and debate if there are other avenues we should explore, whether or not we should designate a commissioner for refugees. We can look at different options, but it's important to welcome at least 10,000 rapidly.
I believe this is a public health issue, just as the Supreme Court stated. We need to act fast and get this over with. In Qu￩bec, we settled the question in a non-partisan manner and the National Assembly voted bill 52 in unanimously.
We must look at this very attentively. Prostitution is not a job with any kind of future; nobody wishes their kids to become prostitutes. But it still a reality and it would be beneficial to have a serene discussion on the issue, just as we did with the Dying with Dignity Commission, so we can determine what's best and to avoid people being trapped by prostitution. It cannot be a partisan issue; it is a very complex issue.
We believe it is best to decriminalize, as did Colorado or Portugal. We propose to create, within the framework of the legalization of marijuana, a pan Canadian committee that would call on experts, police forces as well as our youth to hear their side of the story. There are many places where buying pot is easier than buying beer or cigarettes. Health consequences must be looked at, too, but it's clear to me that organized crime must be taken out of the picture. The State could use this money and reinvest it in fighting addiction as well as in social programs to help youth, for example.
The self-determination of the Palestinian people
Only two separate States can solve this. Israel must respect the UN's Security Council's resolutions, which is not the case right now. On the other hand, we must also oppose terrorism and organizations like Hamas, which is not, in my view, a democratic party. Palestine must be established and recognize as the true authority for Palestinians. There is no other solution than a solution negotiated between two equal states.
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