05/28/2011 03:20 EDT | Updated 07/28/2011 05:12 EDT

Layton Pledges To Maintain Quebec Commons Standings, Defend French Language

MONTREAL (CP) -- NDP Leader Jack Layton says he won't let down his new supporters in Quebec and will propose practical measures defending the language and culture of Quebecers.

He says the NDP will start by fighting to keep Quebec from losing influence in the House of Commons.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government is looking to increase the number of MPs in other provinces where the population has grown quickly.

That would reduce the percentage of seats Quebec currently holds, something that has enraged provincial politicians.

Layton says other priorities are securing Quebec compensation for merging its sales tax with the federal GST and strengthening French language laws.

The NDP Leader made the comments this morning in Montreal at the party's first Quebec council meeting since the May 2 election.

The party jumped from one seat to 59 in the province, making the New Democrats Quebec's strongest voice in Parliament.

Layton says he knows his promise to defend Quebec has met with some resistance elsewhere in Canada, but he says the vast majority of Canadians want Quebec to be a key part of the country.

He says attitudes have changed a lot in the past three decades and people are tired of old debates that pit Quebec against Canada.