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The Globe and Mail

Author of Sherbrooke Declaration backs Nash for NDP leader

NDP Leader Jack Layton goes over notes with Pierre Ducasse, his special Quebec advisor, on Feb. 1, 2005 in Montreal

Paul Chiasson/Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

NDP leadership hopeful Peggy Nash has picked up the significant endorsement of Quebec strategist Pierre Ducasse. But that endorsement is not without baggage.

Mr. Ducasse's name is well known within the party. Although he placed far, far back in his 2003 bid for the NDP leadership, his speech earned a lot of attention at the convention that chose Jack Layton.

Mr. Layton subsequently made Mr. Ducasse his senior adviser in Quebec, and in that role he helped author the Sherbrooke Declaration, which recognizes the right of the Quebec National Assembly to draft and submit any referendum question it may choose on separation, and which would respect a simple majority vote – 50 per cent plus one – to leave Confederation.

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The declaration itself might violate a Supreme Court ruling and the federal Clarity Act, as another leadership candidate, Romeo Saganash, has observed. But the policy is popular in Quebec, and helped elect 59 NDP MPs there on May 2.

Mr. Ducasse's endorsement is therefore valuable, especially for Ms. Nash, a Toronto MP who needs as much of a footprint in Quebec as she can plant.

She can only hope that Mr. Ducasse's support doesn't also come with what appears to be a remarkable string of bad luck. Mr. Ducasse ran for the NDP four times in Quebec, never managing to snare a seat. But he chose not to run last spring, preferring to focus instead on his job at the Canadian Union of Public Employees and his newborn son – and so missed the orange tide that swept through the province.

Instead, Nycole Turmel ran in his riding of Hull-Aylmer, and look where she ended up.

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About the Author
Writer-at-large

John Ibbitson started at The Globe in 1999 and has been Queen's Park columnist and Ottawa political affairs correspondent.Most recently, he was a correspondent and columnist in Washington, where he wrote Open and Shut: Why America has Barack Obama and Canada has Stephen Harper. He returned to Ottawa as bureau chief in 2009. More

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