MONTREAL -- Who could resist a cuddly cartoon Canadian beaver, purring as it rubs against your leg with a broad, buck-toothed smile creasing its face underneath a Mountie stetson?
The political party Quebec solidaire, that's who.
In fact, in an election ad designed to put to rest doubts about its support for Quebec independence, a stick figure gleefully boots the furry national rodent right off the screen.
The crudely drawn cartoon ad has been posted to the Internet and is one of five that the small left-wing party says is aimed at clearing up misconceptions about it.
The party shares ties with some members of the federal NDP and has been under attack lately by opponents who accuse it of selling out the independence movement.
It has been slammed by ex-Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe, who accuses it of helping to virtually wipe out the Bloc in last year's federal election.
"There are rumours that members of Quebec solidaire drape themselves in the Maple Leaf and hold questionable ties to beavers,'' says the ad's narrator.
"In fact, that's not quite the case.''
Though it's tiny, with only one seat in the legislature, Quebec solidaire could siphon support from the PQ in some ridings. In an effort to rally the sovereigntist vote, Duceppe and others are attacking the party's commitment to independence.
The ad is an attempt to address that attack.
It explains that Quebec solidaire would create a constitution for a new independent Quebec that would contain an inspiring vision for society, and put that document to a vote in a referendum.
"Federalist, Quebec solidaire? Not at all. Sovereigntist _ but not like the others,'' says the ad's narrator. ``The Quebec solidaire program is very clear on the fact that it's independentist.''
The ad ends with a joke: Quebec solidaire says no beavers were harmed in the making of their new spot.
The NDP has instructed its elected members in Ottawa to avoid taking sides in the Quebec election and in recent months, under new leader Tom Mulcair, has been extremely reluctant to weigh in on controversial provincial issues.
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