MASCOUCHE, Que. — One of Quebec's largest and sovereigntist-leaning labour federations has dropped its long-standing endorsement of the Bloc Quebecois and some of its member unions are supporting the NDP, making party leader Tom Mulcair "extremely proud."
Mulcair said he will "work hard to maintain the support" of unions in Quebec in order to "expand our traditional base and rally progressives across Quebec and Canada."
He made the comments Tuesday during a campaign stop at a pre-fabricated house company in this community about 40 kilometres north of Montreal.
Quebec's FTQ federation covers 37 labour unions and counts 600,000 members.
Its secretary-general, Serge Cadieux, said Tuesday the FTQ is not officially endorsing any political party, but that two of its unions have so far come out in support of the NDP.
The federation has officially endorsed the Bloc in almost every federal election since the early 90s.
This time, however, Cadieux said the Bloc is not best-placed to beat the Conservatives, whom he called "catastrophic" for working people.
Cadieux said the FTQ has targeted 10 ridings in Quebec where support for the Conservatives is relatively strong and where it will "focus its energies."
The plan is to endorse and help any candidate in those ten ridings who has the best shot at beating a Tory, whether they be affiliated with the Liberals, NDP, Bloc or the Green party, Cadieux said.
"The Conservatives govern against workers, retired people, the environment," he said, "They are against co-operating with the international community — it's not a government that meets our expectations."
The NDP leader brushed off suggestions that support from a large and powerful labour federation that has historically supported the separatist Bloc would hurt the party's image outside Quebec.
Mulcair said the NDP is a big tent that welcomes all Quebecers, even if some of them have supported the sovereigntist cause in the past.
"That's the beauty of the NDP's offer to Quebecers," he said. "We want to go beyond the old quarrels of the past."
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