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Former Bloc leader Duceppe and CBC radio part ways even before new job starts

Gilles Duceppe's stint in public broadcasting may have been controversial, but it was spectacularly brief.

In fact, the former Bloc Québécois leader never actually made it onto the airwaves.

Two days after it was announced that Mr. Duceppe would make appearances once a week on a radio program with the French-language CBC, it was announced that the deal was off.

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The reason for the falling out was an apparent misunderstanding over the terms of Mr. Duceppe's contract.

The former Bloc leader always intended to focus on lifestyle, sports and social issues – but, according to a statement Wednesday from Radio-Canada, he did want the chance to discuss politics once in a while.

The public broadcaster, however, says it has a two-year cooling-off period before former politicians can report on political issues. As a result, the sides have parted ways.

A statement from Radio-Canada indicates it was Mr. Duceppe who made the decision to call off the deal.

"Radio-Canada's program policy clearly states that at least two years must pass before we can hire someone who has left active politics to discuss public issues as a host, reporter or commentator," said official Anne Serode.

"However, the same policy does authorize the hiring of political figures whose past associations have no relation to the role he is entrusted.

"We understand Mr. Duceppe's decision and regret that he wasn't informed of our policy restrictions from the outset."

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The working arrangement was announced after a meeting Monday between Mr. Duceppe and Radio-Canada. He apparently balked after a second meeting Wednesday, when the terms of the deal were shown to him.

The CBC's decision to employ Mr. Duceppe drew some fire this week, notably from regular critics of the public broadcaster.

Mr. Duceppe had said earlier this week that, as the son of a famous actor, father of children involved in theatre and a passionate sports fan, he would have plenty of things to talk about besides politics.

Perhaps the most memorable take on this week's debacle came from a Quebec political commentator who was once a colleague of Mr. Duceppe's.

"Duceppe; a career at Radio-Canada that lasted just as long as his bid to lead the PQ; 24 hours," said a tweet from Jean Lapierre, a former member of the Bloc Québécois and Liberal Party.

In 2007, Mr. Duceppe quickly entered, then exited, a race to lead the Parti Québécois.

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At the time he was considered Quebec's most successful politician and a leading candidate to revive the fortunes of the sovereignty movement. But his attempt to switch to provincial politics ruffled some feathers in Quebec City, and Mr. Duceppe agreed to stand down in favour of Pauline Marois.

During his federal career, Mr. Duceppe led the Bloc through six elections and dominated Quebec in most of them. Until this spring's election, in which the NDP swept the province.

The Canadian Press

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