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Duceppe wades into election campaign with attack on Amir Khadir

Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe speaks to supporters during a campaign rally at Patro Laval in Quebec City, April 20, 2011.

MATHIEU BELANGER/REUTERS

The rift in the sovereignty movement grew even wider following former Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe's virulent attack against Amir Khadir, the co-leader of the left-wing pro-sovereignty Quebec Solidaire party.

In an interview with the French service of the Canadian Press news agency, Mr. Duceppe called Mr. Khadir a "populist and an opportunist." He also called into question Mr. Khadir's sovereignist credentials.

Mr. Duceppe's unexpected foray into the Quebec election campaign didn't go unnoticed.

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Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois refused to endorse Mr. Duceppe's remarks but didn't condemn them outright either.

"You know Gilles is a long time sovereignist," Ms. Marois said on her way into a campaign event Friday night in Beloeil near Montreal. "He knows Amir Khadir better then me because he has known him a while… So even if I don't endorse his remarks, it remains that it (Khadir) divides the sovereignist vote."

Mr. Duceppe once considered running for the PQ leadership but bowed-out after locking horns with Ms. Marois.

Mr. Duceppe was invited to speak on Saturday at a PQ event where the party will officially announce the candidacy of Jean-François leader, the former advisor to premiers Jacques Parizeau and Lucien Bouchard.

Mr. Duceppe said that he plans to play an active role in helping Ms. Marois win the election. But few expected that would play on the divisions in the sovereignty movement by attacking Mr. Khadir rather then Jean Charest's Liberals.

Mr. Duceppe may still feel bitter over Mr. Khadir's endorsement of the NDP in last year's federal election when the BQ was almost completely wiped-off the Quebec electoral map. Mr. Duceppe himself was soundly defeated in his own riding. During the interview, Mr. Duceppe suggested Mr. Khadir had no backbone after renouncing his sovereignty convictions in last year's federal election. He then mocked the Quebec Solidaire slogan "Debout," which translates as "Stand up" in English.

"Their slogan says stand up. But in the federal election he was on bended knee before the NDP," Mr. Duceppe said, clearly still upset over Mr. Khadir`s refusal to support the Bloc when it needed the most.

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About the Author
Quebec City political correspondent

Rhéal Séguin is a journalist and political scientist. Born and educated in southern Ontario, he completed his undergraduate degree in political science at York University and a master's degree in political science at the Université du Québec à Montréal.Rhéal has practised journalism since 1978, first with Radio-Canada in radio and television and then with CBC Radio. More

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