MONTREAL - Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe's campaign embarked on a tour of some of Quebec's most remote ridings Monday.
The week began with a bump as Duceppe woke up to a banner headline in Montreal's La Presse over a report quoting five former Bloc MPs as saying that the federal sovereigntist party has outlived its usefulness now that sovereignty is no longer a burning issue for the great majority of Quebecers.
Among them was Richard Belisle, one of the first wave of BQ members elected to Parliament, who said the party has become top heavy with former union members, from the Confederation of National Trade Unions.
It echoed a critique of the party last week from former Parti Quebecois minister Jacques Brassard to the effect that the Bloc has become merely a pallid clone of the NDP with leftist policies to which most Quebecers don't subscribe.
The Bloc tour travelled first to Val d'Or, Que., where Duceppe is scheduled to meet with pulp and paper mill workers in the province's most northerly riding, Abitibi-Baie-James-Nunavik-Eeyou. From there, is moves to Rouyn-Noranda in Abitibi-Temiscamingue riding where Duceppe is to meet with representatives of area cultural groups. The Bloc currently holds both riding.