Saturday, September 13, 2008

Commentary -- The Gazette

L. Ian MacDonald: Bloc's Duceppe Struggles To
Hang Onto The Furniture

The Bloc Québécois has always been a one-trick pony. In its first three elections from 1993 to 2000, it ran on sovereignty. In the last two, in 2004 and 2006, it ran on the sponsorship scandal.

In this election, the Bloc is running without the benefit of either. Sovereignty is on the shelf; even the Parti Québécois says so. And sponsorship is in the rear-view mirror, the Liberals having been well and truly punished at the polls.

The Bloc’s lack of a raison d’être is much more telling than any lack of a detailed policy platform. Founded as a protest party after the death of Meech Lake, it evolved into a party of defending Quebec’s interests. But since it can never be in government, its policy platform is meaningless.

The Bloc’s leader, Gilles Duceppe, is now in his fifth and almost certainly last campaign. And it isn’t going very well. He has the body language of someone who wants to go home. He can still do indignation, but not with much conviction. And he doesn’t have a message that resonates with voters.

In search of a new reason for being as the writ was dropped last weekend, he told Quebecers they had to vote for the Bloc to prevent the Conservatives from winning a majority. The Bloc as the Block Party. It was the sort of desperate message a party usually puts out when it is trying to save the furniture in the last days of the campaign, not as an opening salvo.

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