Comrade Gilles Duceppe
The role of a Communist in parliament was outlined in a set of theses adopted by the Communist International in 1920. In essence, that role was to expose the limitations of parliament as a path to improved living conditions for working people. Communists in parliament did not aim to gain “amendments” to reactionary legislation, but to denounce the legislation, and use their resources as an MP to help organize mass campaigns to defeat it. Their role was also to use the parliamentary platform for general socialist agitation. Communist parties were too openly state their political positions, and parliamentarians were bound to support these policies.
The discussion of the tactics of the Bolsheviks reveals quite clearly that the Bolsheviks used the tactic of standing for election to address the masses in periods of working class retreat and demoralization, when mass struggles were not the norm. A struggle that involved re-elaborating again the tactics of the Bolsheviks in the various Russian Dumas (toothless fake parliaments, convened by the tsarist regime to provide a fig-leaf of popular representation). The Bolsheviks used the opportunity of elections to this powerless body as an opportunity to engage in mass agitation and propaganda for the overthrow of the tsarist regime, and as a tribune for the struggles of the working class and the peasantry. Bolshevik deputies were under the strict control of their party, and were not in the Duma to engage in parliamentary careers, but rather to act as revolutionary leaders of the masses.
The creation of the Bloc Quebecois was an amalgamation of left and right forces in
If Reform was the right rump of Mulroney’s Tories, his left wing was Lucien Bouchard and other
The NDP as a Federalist Left opposition party was weakened but could have strengthened the left opposition to the Liberals. But they did not, given their federalist leadership which continued to ignore the rank and file who had passed pro
Enter Comrade Gilles Duceppe who replaced right wing privateer and management lawyer Lucien Bouchard(1) as the BQ leader. Duceppe was and remains a communist in the Leninist tradition; his protests to the contrary, belie the fact that the entire Bloc campaign is the classic Leninist Parliamentary strategy of being the Opposition in parliament.
Unlike all the other Federal parties, the BQ has no intention of ever being government. They enter the house as the official opposition from
As Sovereigntists they propose a two state solution in
As Internationalists they believe any gains made for the Quebec working class are gains for the Canadian working class. Such was the claim made by the BQ when they ran for election last summer.
And when they launched their election campaign the key issues the most important issues for them were class struggle issues around Employment Insurance, Job Security, funding for the industrial infrastructure in
Unlike the NDP whose program was aimed not at Canadian workers but Canadian Citizens over broad-based issues such as health care, the environment, etc.
It has been the BQ in the house that has lobbied for Anti-Scab legislation this year. That legislation just missed passing in the house. It was squashed by the Conservatives and Liberals.
Under the leadership of Comrade Duceppe, the BQ has adopted a working class program as a left social democratic party, much more so than the mushy social democrats in the NDP. While sovereignty is their goal, it is the sovereignty of the CSN, which was the union Duceppe, was an organizer for and which has been one of the strongest supporters of
During and after last summer’s election Duceppe took the position that the BQ would not give a blanket approval of the minority government nor go into a coalition government but rather in traditional Leninist fashion, they would judge each bill on its own accord.
While the BQ has led the campaign of exposing the Chrétien Liberals and their AdScam scandal in
It is not the NDP, but the BQ that has spoken out loudly and ceaselessly not only for
The chorus line has been the NDP, who still refuse to recognize the BQ as fellow social democrats. Ever opportunist, they will use the separatist canard when it suits them to appear more federalist than the Liberals or Conservatives. Instead of creating a common front with the BQ the NDP, whose status within
The BQ under
The Liberal minority government faces an intransigent Leninist opposition in the BQ and this is what has made their hold on power perilous for the past twelve months. The BQ saw the gains they had made in
Unlike the Conservatives who waited till they had polling numbers ahead of the Liberals, the BQ knows that after achieving record seats last summer, that they had not seen since they had been the official opposition, they are in to gain more.
As history has shown once again the NDP will prop up a Liberal government, at their own expense, pushing the Liberals left as they move right. The pitch by Martin and Layton that the Conservatives are in bed with the Separatists shows how right wing the NDP will go to get their consumer social democratic platform implemented.
The BQ will of course remain the good Bolsheviks and support those bills such as the Anti-Scab one, or those around EI or workers rights, that benefit workers. They will support direct no strings funding to
This is what makes
Unfortunately that also puts the BQ on the side of other free traders such as Ralph Klein, and Stephen Harper. What makes their version of free trade different than the right wings is they see the (
It is this reason that the BQ will defend huge Federal Government handouts to Bombardier, and other
The union culture in
It was shown this spring when post secondary students across the province went on a month long general strike against the Charest government in
There may be two solitudes in
The BQ under Duceppe offers the NDP and the CLC that challenge, to build a new federalism in
So far So-So-Solidaritie has been missing from the Canadian labour movement and its party the NDP.The NDP's failure and outright refusal to form coalitions with the BQ for the last decade.The embrace of Canadian nationalism by the Canadian Labour movement during the Quebec referendum. These politifcal decisions shows the Canadian left is still haunted by the ghost of the David Lewis.
Québec's march towards nationhood is nearing its goal, as the results of the most recent referendum so clearly showed. In a vote held October 30, 1995, close to half the population of Québec opted for sovereignty. For very many Quebecers, this is the only choice for taking their own destiny in hand.
Québec is a tolerant and diverse pluralistic society, and will remain so after it becomes sovereign. The sovereigntist project, which is founded on democratic principles, reflects this reality. It proposes a new openness toward the rest of the world as well as a new economic and monetary union with
Québec aspires to possess all the tools necessary for its economic, social and cultural development. And like for many other peoples before us, this desire to control our future is contingent on the creation of our own country, Québec.
The members of Parliament of the Bloc Québécois would like share their project and their motivations with you. This document is a first step. We hope that the enclosed information will help you understand why so many Quebecers are committed to building a country of their own.
Gilles Duceppe, Leader of the Bloc Québécois
In 1984, Brian Mulroney, the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, was elected Prime Minister of Canada. During his election campaign, he promised to bring Québec back into "the Canadian constitutional fold with honor and enthusiasm." In response to this openness, Québec premier and Liberal Party leader Robert Bourassa, who had been elected in 1985, presented the rest of Canada with five minimum conditions that Québec deemed essential for it to recognize the 1982 Canadian Constitution. These conditions were the following:
1. Recognition of Québec as a distinct society
2. Veto over any change to the Constitution
3. Guarantees concerning the appointment of Québec judges to the Supreme Court of Canada
4. The right of provinces to opt out of federal programs with full financial compensation
5. Increased powers for Québec over immigration duties within its borders
In 1987, these five conditions were incorporated into the Meech Lake Accord1, an agreement in principle signed by the Prime Minister of Canada and the premiers of the ten provinces, including Québec's premier. The premiers committed to having the agreement ratified by their respec-tive legislatures by June 23, 1990.
The Accord sparked strong opposition, particularly in the English-speaking provinces where the concept of "distinct society" as a means of designating Québec was poorly received. To salvage the agreement and win the support of
The fallout from the
On August 13, 1990, Gilles Duceppe, the current leader of the Bloc Québécois, was elected as MP for the federal district of Laurier/Sainte-Marie in a by-election. He was the first-ever sovereignist member elected to the federal parliament.
In July 1992 following several months of discussions, the provinces and the federal government reached a new constitutional agreement the Charlottetown Accord2. The agreement addressed very few of Québec's demands and delivered far less than the five minimum conditions set out by Robert Bourassa at the time of the Meech Lake Accord. The new agreement weakened the concept of distinct society and got a very skeptical reception in Québec. Once again, a majority in Québec saw it as an attempt to negate their uniqueness.
On October 26, 1992, a referendum was held to give Canadians the opportunity to vote on the Charlottetown Accord. The results of this pan-Canadian exercise were telling: 57% of Québec voters felt that the agree-ment did not address Québec's traditional demands and rejected it; else-where in
"We entered the federation on the faith of a promise of equality in a shared undertaking and of respect for our authority in certain matters that to us are vital. "But what was to follow did not live up to those early hopes. The Canadian State contravened the federative pact, by invading in a thousand ways areas in which we are autonomous, and by serving notice that our secular belief in the equality of the partners* was an illusion.
"We were hoodwinked in 1982 when the governments of
Québec will remain a strong proponent of free trade. It will continue to support the movement toward integration that emerged from the
Gilles Duceppe: The Bloc enters a second decade
By ALLISON DUNFIELD
Globe and Mail Update
A former Communist, hospital orderly and son of a famous actor, Gilles Duceppe, 53, is still pursuing elusive
When Mr. Duceppe arrived in
“I would have liked our presence in Ottawa to have been over by now because it would have meant we'd reached our goal,'' Mr. Duceppe told The Globe and Mail in August on the anniversary of the creation of the party. The party says it will have no reason to exist if it achieves sovereignty for
The party was founded by Lucien Bouchard, who is now Quebec Premier, when a group of disgruntled Tory MPs left their party to work in the Commons for an independent
Born on July 22, 1947 in
Before his political life, Mr. Duceppe was a union organizer for the Confederation des Syndicats Nationaux, and in his first election, he had the support of many community leaders and activists. One New Democratic Party leader actually withdrew from the by-election so she wouldn't harm Mr. Duceppe's chances of winning in 1990.
Mr. Duceppe has always had a strong sense of justice for francophones and has been known for his articulate manner in the House of Commons. He has been attempting to prove that the Bloc is not just a one-issue party - including issues such as the environment and foreign affairs in his campaign kickoff. Fighting organized crime is another major theme for a party, as
A day before the election was called, Mr. Duceppe predicted that the Bloc would win more than the 44 seats it has going into the race, but would not be drawn into detailed predictions. Some party officials have predicted more than 50 seats. On the eve of the election campaign, he also said the Bloc would be open to co-operating with other parties if a minority government is elected, although he would not agree to a coalition government.
A sore spot for the Bloc is the fact that two former MPs, Nic LeBlanc and Richard Bélisle, decided to join the Alliance and run for the party in Quebec. Mr. Duceppe and Mr. Bouchard have said the
“We're also the best-placed to fight this right-wing current which is surging across
Mr. Duceppe has a record of supporting women. On Oct. 12, the Bloc proposed a $45-billion expansion of
As party leader, he is known for having a strong grip on members and has reprimanded those who miss meetings. And his leadership has not been without controversy. Mr. Duceppe's new book, book, Gilles Duceppe Par Lui Meme, was coincidentally released Friday, two days before the election call.
Duceppe ready to ride Bloc's wave of popularity
Angela Mulholland, CTV.ca News Staff
April 21, 2004 1:53 PM ET
Just a few short months ago, Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe seemed doomed.
His party was drifting into obscurity, his MPs were defecting in droves to provincial politics and a high profile former Bloc MP, Jean Lapierre, emerged from retirement to join the Liberals calling the Bloc irrelevant and obsolete.
But then, like a gift from heaven, came the sponsorship scandal.
Known as "les commandites" in
A recent Ipsos-Reid poll found support for the Bloc in
While Duceppe, 56, must be pleased with the Bloc's resurgence, he may suspect it likely has little to do with him. Sure, his party has been relentless in its attacks against the Liberals and has helped to expose much of the sponsorship scandal. But the Bloc's popularity rarely has anything to do with Duceppe, says Michael Behiels, a history professor at the
"When Quebecers vote for the Bloc, they are not voting for Duceppe. They are voting for the ideas the party represents," Behiels told CTV.ca. "If they vote for the Bloc, it's almost always a protest vote against the current federal government."
When it comes to whom voters would choose as their leader, polls in Quebec show that Prime Minister Paul Martin runs way ahead of Duceppe -- even with voters seething at the Liberals.
"Duceppe is not seen as someone who could ever be prime minister," Behiels says.
In recent years, Duceppe and the Bloc have been floundering. The party's goals have seemed less relevant for many Quebecers. The economy is doing well, and even the hard-core sovereigntists recognize that the support needed to win secession is gone. With two referendums behind them, most Quebecers are not interested in talking about separation - at least for now.
"This is typical of the kind of ebb and tide of
"And the tide has gone out for the moment."
Duceppe is savvy enough to know not to push the secession issue. Instead, he will campaign on old-fashioned
That's not to say that Duceppe himself has abandoned the secession cause. No matter what the federal government promises to
Duceppe's ties to sovereignty can be traced back to his childhood in
He studied political science at the
In 1977, Duceppe became a union negotiator for Confederation des Syndicats Nationaux, the Confederation of National Trade Unions, and earned a reputation for his passion for hard work.
According to those who know him, Duceppe is intelligent, disciplined and utterly focused on his goals. He is renowned for his willingness to work hard -- perhaps too hard, say those who have accused him of sometimes being too intense and humourless.
In 1990, a Tory MP named Lucien Bouchard took notice of Duceppe. When the
Buoyed by his reputation as a labour leader and perhaps a little by the name of his father -- the well-known
Over the next three years, Duceppe helped Bouchard and the quickly-expanding Bloc to drum up enough support to run candidates in most
Bouchard left the Bloc in 1995 after the failed
When Duceppe came to
He was wrong.
"Duceppe has certainly failed in his mission to withdraw
What may be even more depressing is that the Bloc under Duceppe's leadership has withered, particularly in the last year or two.
Many of the die-hard separatists within the party have defected to join the action democratique du
Beheils says the defections are less a statement on Duceppe's leadership and more of an indication of the party's relevance.
"It's simply a reflection of the reality of the
For the moment, the tide has now once again turned in Duceppe's favour. The sponsorship crisis has dropped into Duceppe's lap and sent voters over to the Bloc by default. The timing couldn't be better.
Duceppe is showing that sometimes the best way to get ahead is to do nothing.
What remains to be seen is whether Duceppe can hold onto his seats and even earn a few more. If he can, he'll have saved his leadership -- at least momentarily -- and put off the question of the relevance of a separatist party for another day.
The current Bloc leader, Gilles Duceppe, is also the son of Jean Duceppe, a famous
A new branch of the New Democratic Party of Canada, called New Democratic Party of Canada (
In 2002, it joined with the Rassemblement pour l'alternative progressiste (Union for a progressive alternative) and the Parti communiste du Québec (Communist Party of Quebec) to form the Union des forces progressistes (UFP). It remains an organized tendency within the UFP under the name Québec socialiste.
UFP members share the view that the answer to the national question, and by extension social emancipation, is sovereignty for the
Duceppe is a native of Montreal,
In 1990, Duceppe was elected to the Canadian House of Commons for the newly-formed Bloc Québécois in a by-election in Montreal's Laurier—Sainte-Marie riding. At the time, he was forced to run as an independent because the Bloc had not been registered by Elections Canada as a political party. All of the Bloc's other Members of Parliament had crossed the floor from either the Progressive Conservative Party or the Liberal Party earlier that year. Duceppe's victory in a by-election demonstrated, for the first time, that the party had electoral support in Quebec and was capable of winning elections. Previously, many pundits (and members of other parties) predicted that the Bloc would be able to gain the support of the voters.
In 1996, when Lucien Bouchard stepped down as Bloc leader to become leader of the Parti Québécois, Duceppe served as interim leader of the party until Michel Gauthier was elected later that year. However, Gauthier was forced out of the party leadership in 1997, and Duceppe became party leader and Leader of the Opposition.
To become the next Prime Minister of Canada
MP for Laurier—Sainte-Marie, Leader
1990-present, Bloc Québecois:
- Became the first elected MP in 1990, worked with Lucien Bouchard
- Served as Party Whip from 1993-1996
- Served as Leader of the Official Opposition from 1996-1997
- Won the leadership of the party in 1997
Union Negotiator, Confederation of National Trade Unions
- Promoted the interests of workers and the development of peace and democratic initiatives while working for the
chapter of the CNTU Quebec
- Facilitated negotiations between organizations and workers
Activist: Member of Company of Young Canadians, Communist Workers’ Party, President of
Students’ Union Quebec
1966-1977, CYC, QSU, CWP:
- Worked as president of the Quebec Students’
- Involved with the Communist Workers’ Party in the late 1970s
- Involved with the Company of Young Canadians, an federal agency devoted to social change in
- Developed leadership and communication skills while gaining experience in community-based and political organizations
B.A. from Collège Mont-Saint-Louis
Late 1960s-70s, Collège Mont-Saint-Louis:
- Studies in political science, Université de Montréal
- Worked as president of the Quebec Students’
Union(1968-69) and with the Communist Workers’ Party
Childhood hockey heroes were Maurice Richard and Dickie Moore.
- Became a separatist in 1967
- Spent five years as a nurse in the late 1970s
- On June 15, 2004, spoke in
about youth voting: « Qui a dit que les jeunes ne s’intéressaient pas à la politique? Peut-être est-ce la politique qui ne s’intéresse pas assez aux jeunes? » (“Who said that young people aren’t interested in politics? Maybe ‘politics’ isn’t taking enough of an interest in youth?”) Montreal
Workers' Communist Party of
Workers' Communist Party of
The Workers' Communist Party of Canada was a Canadian political party that nominated candidates in the 1972 and 1980 general elections. For several years it published a weekly newspaper "The Forge/La Forge". The WCP was strongest in
None of its candidates was elected to the Canadian House of Commons, nor did they receive many votes.
See also: List of political parties in Canada
by Richard Fidler
A new left-wing political party has formed in
Biography from Toronto Star
Former hospital orderly, former Communist and labor organizer. First ever elected MP for the separatist BQ.
And now - after winning the Bloc leadership with 52.8 per cent - leader of Her Majesty's loyal Opposition.
Largely unknown outside
Duceppe is no Lucien Bouchard. He doesn't have the charisma or the spell-binding oratory.
But he has been by far one of the Bloc's most effective MPs, an intense man with searing blue eyes who can often drill the government in the daily Commons question period better than any other.
Liberal strategist Michael Robinson, a companion on the
"I quite like him, on a personal level," says Robinson.
On the political level, however, the 49-year-old Duceppe can be as tough as nails:
· In the Commons, he subtly but deliberately plays the race card, portraying the English-speaking rest of the country against French-speaking
· He was once ejected from the House for calling Deputy Prime Minister Sheila Copps a liar.
· He contemptuously rejects warnings that there wouldn't be free trade between an independent
"Tell western farmers they will have to eat all their beef or watch the carcasses rot, instead of selling them to Quebec, (or) go to Oshawa and explain to workers in the automobile industry that they will have to go on unemployment insurance out of patriotism, because Canada cannot sell any more cars to those poor Quebecers," he once said.
Even some members of the Bloc consider him overbearing.
Duceppe probably could have been leader a year ago. After Bouchard left to become premier, he quickly emerged as the likely front runner among potential contenders.
But then he backed off when it appeared his candidacy might split the party.
In her 1995 book, The Bloc, author Manon Cornellier says Duceppe exercised unprecedented control over Bloc MPs as Bouchard's hand-picked party whip.
"At one point it went as far as surveillance of letters sent (by MPs) to party members," she wrote.
Swearing like a sailor, Duceppe also regularly reprimanded members who missed committee meetings or committed some other transgression, and irritated others by monopolizing contact with the press.
"He loves being at the microphone," one MP told Cornellier. "Even now he controls things completely."
Two years later, Duceppe may have mellowed somewhat. He was backed by more than 20 of the other 51 Bloc MPs and by the presidents of more than half of its 75 riding associations.
His rise has not been without controversy, however.
In 1994, he was briefly the centre of attention over a parliamentary mailing to his constituents in which he urged them to vote for a party for which his wife was a candidate in local school board elections.
And this year, he came under attack for his role in helping Bouchard's staff exploit House of Commons rules so that they could both collect their new salaries with him in Quebec city and get federal severance pay after being "fired" from their jobs here.
The son of the late and highly acclaimed actor Jean Duceppe, the new leader's roots in the separatist movement go back 30 years.
He hasn't done so lately, but in a 1991 interview with the Ottawa Citizen, Duceppe attributed his conversion to separatism to mean-spirited and colonial-minded anglophones.
Duceppe told the Citizen that when he and his friends went to hockey games in
Worse, when he tried to board a bus for students going to an English-speaking school one bitterly cold day, he and his friends were only allowed to stand in the aisles. When he complained, the story goes, an anglophone teacher slapped him.
"If you're talking about social justice, that event marked me," he told the Citizen.
Even so, Duceppe only became a separatist when René Lévesque did - in centennial year, 1967. And even then his attention quickly shifted to the labor movement and eventually to communism.
With the influence of the church sharply declining in those years, "we looked for another set of values, one that was all-enveloping, like the church," he told the Montreal Gazette.
For a lot of us it was communism. It was a rational explanation that had answers to all the questions. Like in the church, the answers were all there, written down. It gives you a sense of security."
Looking back now, he says his three-year membership in the Communist Workers party was a mistake brought on by a search for fundamental change.
Duceppe returned to separatism after the 1982 overhaul of the Constitution by
But his plunge into federal politics only came in 1990 after the collapse of the
Less than two months after Meech failed - helped in no small measure by Jean Chrétien, who by then was Liberal leader - Duceppe and the newly born Bloc led by Bouchard snatched a Liberal stronghold in east-end
The Bloc has never looked back.
From a rag-tag group of former Tories and Liberals under Bouchard in 1990, it has grown to a party of more than 100,000 members, helped defeat the Charlottetown accord in a 1992 referendum, swept 54 of the province's 75 federal seats in 1993, helped win the provincial election of 1994, and came within a whisker of winning the referendum on sovereignty in 1995.
Now, polls suggest, it is poised to sweep
What sort of leader will he be?
History suggests he will be very much in the Bouchard mold.
Like Bouchard, he says the Bloc should act as a truly national opposition where necessary, speaking out on behalf of the poor or other Canadians regardless of where they live.
Like Bouchard - and unlike former premier Jacques Parizeau - he proposes a European-style union between an independent
The Canadian Press
The Bloc Quebecois leader is utterly focused on his goals, say those who know him well.
His personal style is one of hard work and discipline.
"My assessment is that he is a very determined person," says Jean Lapierre, a former Bloc MP who used to sit beside Duceppe in the Commons.
"He's very serious. He's probably too intense, you know. He wouldn't laugh for a small joke. I think that's one of the points that he has to work on."
Duceppe, 49, rises early, and is known to call colleagues at 6 a.m. to discuss the day's news. For months before the leadership convention in March he averaged five hours' sleep a night.
Duceppe broke into politics as an organizer for the Communist Workers' Party (Marxist-Leninist). His left leanings continued later in life.
In the 1970s he spent five years working as a medical orderly on the night shift at
Although he regrets his involvement in the communist movement, he also sees a fundamental continuity in his career. "I was always involved, socially and politically. I didn't stop because I made an error."
His communist past has drawn some fierce criticism in the English-language media but it doesn't seem to be an issue in
"There are so many former Marxists around in universities and all that, and most of them have become very quiet, moderate people," says Louis Balthazar, a political scientist at
Unlike some of his rivals in this year's contest for the separatist party's leadership, Duceppe insisted on a party program covering all major issues. He says the program is not limited to defending the interests of
"When we're discussing family trusts, when we're discussing employment insurance, when we're discussing peace missions around the world, we're talking for Quebecers but not only Quebecers."
However, most of the questions raised by the Bloc in the House of Commons relate specifically to
Duceppe insists that his commitment to
"We need Canadians to live a quiet revolution like we did in the '60s. Canadians need to discover themselves without
The grandson of an Englishman, Duceppe says he has no grudge against English Canada.
He admits some unpleasant encounters with anglophones in childhood. In grade six, he once was slapped by an anglo teacher -- and promptly slapped her back.
He denies that the incident colored his thinking. He notes that when he entered his first formal debate in college, he argued for federalism -- and won.
"I had the wrong cause, but I was a good debater," says Duceppe, with a chuckle.
"We want a strong
He is a strong defender of the so-called partnership option, which foresees an independent
His personal friends include federalists such as New Democrat Svend Robinson. When Duceppe and his wife took a holiday in
"He (Duceppe) is a very progressive member of Parliament," says Robinson. "He's very solid on many of the issues that I and New Democrats are concerned about.
"Obviously we differ fundamentally on the issue of
Duceppe has been portrayed as a puppet of Bloc founder Lucien Bouchard, now
"Real friends can tell you when they disagree. There's many, many, many, many people around (who) always agree with you just to please you, and those are not friends."
In the weeks following the leadership convention in March, Duceppe's critics in the Bloc have fallen silent. Even runner-up Yves Duhaime, who initially refused to rally to Duceppe's leadership, has agreed to run on his slate against Prime Minister Jean Chretien in Saint-Maurice.
Balthazar of Laval University predicts that the Bloc will remain a potent force in the coming election, because many Quebecers see no other party they can count on to defend their interests.
"The Liberals are doing so bad with the French-speaking
"Since the Conservatives are doing so little -- (Conservative Leader Jean) Charest is concentrating in