Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Duceppe faces NDP call to expel incumbent over aboriginal misstep

Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe poses with local candidates in Quebec City on April 1, 2011.

Jacques Boissinot/THE CANADIAN PRESS

A Bloc Québécois MP running for re-election in northern Quebec apologized Friday for suggesting an opponent can't win because he's aboriginal.

Bloc candidate Yvon Lévesque suggested the NDP made a mistake running Roméo Saganash, a longtime friend of his, in the riding of Abitibi-Baie-James-Nunavik-Eeyou.

"Certain voters will not choose the New Democratic Party now that they're running an aboriginal candidate," Mr. Lévesque told the news website, Rue Frontenac.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Lévesque received an early morning phone call from his leader, Gilles Duceppe.

"I was not happy," Mr. Duceppe said. "It's a bad analysis. People don't vote for Cree because they're Cree or Francophones because they're Francophone. Votes are individual."

Mr. Lévesque sent out a statement of apology. "I hope my unfortunate words won't harm important advances aboriginal communities have made and that the Bloc Québécois has fought for for years, " he said.

But an apology does not go far enough, according to NDP Leader Jack Layton. He said Mr. Duceppe has no choice but to dismiss his candidate.

"To have a member of Parliament, a member of the Bloc, say that the NDP has made a mistake by having a first nations leader as our candidate because the NDP is somehow going to lose votes, is essentially suggesting that the citizens of his riding are racist and that's somehow okay and going to work for the benefit of the Bloc. That is totally unacceptable," Mr. Layton said Friday on a campaign stop in Sudbury.

"Mr. Duceppe needs to take the strong action of asking that candidate to step out of the Bloc team."

The Bloc Leader, however, said an apology is sufficient.

Story continues below advertisement

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Authors
National correspondent

Les Perreaux joined the Montreal bureau of the Globe and Mail in 2008. He previously worked for the Canadian Press covering national and international affairs, including federal and Quebec politics and the war in Afghanistan. More

Parliamentary reporter

Gloria Galloway has been a journalist for almost 30 years. She worked at the Windsor Star, the Hamilton Spectator, the National Post, the Canadian Press and a number of small newspapers before being hired by The Globe and Mail as deputy national editor in 2001. Gloria returned to reporting two years later and joined the Ottawa bureau in 2004. More

Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.