Tuesday, June 09, 2015


In response to the apparent return of Gilles Duceppe to federal politics, I'll offer a quick rerun on the state of the Bloc Quebecois:
Once the 1995 referendum was in the rear-view mirror, however, the Bloc recognized that it would need to stand for more than sovereignty alone. And so it developed a strategy of running hard against the government of the day (which was always its strongest Quebec opponent) and serving as an opposition on behalf of Quebec alone.

That strategy was highly effective at stoking frustration against sitting governments. But in the last few election cycles, it proved somewhat vulnerable when competing opposition parties entered the picture: in 2006 the Cons did better than anticipated as the Bloc hammered away at Lib scandals, and in 2008 the Libs managed to gain ground as the Bloc launched its culture war against Stephen Harper.
In effect, the Bloc has always succeeded by overwhelming a single national opponent which bears the burden of government in a one-province, one-front battle. But there's no way they're avoiding a multi-front challenge in 2015 - and starting from a tenth of their former caucus size and a dwindling membership will only make that challenge all the more difficult.
It's true enough that Duceppe at least figures to offer a more credible face for the Bloc than any alternative during an election campaign - which figures to improve the party's chances of surviving to fight another day.

And it may be that the Bloc can completely revamp its previous strategy to counter a popular opposition party which can both launch effective critiques against the sitting government, and offer an alternative. But I don't see much having changed since 2012 to suggest that the Bloc will ever again be the broad-based opposition party it was for nearly two decades - and if the strongest leader still in the Bloc ranks can't gain back some ground this year, the party's end may well be nigh.


  1. Anonymous5:38 p.m.

    Duceppe could help split the francophone vote enough to ruin chances of an NDP gov't. It could also split the vote enough to mean more Harper. I am still bothered about how the NDP does apper to suck up to the soft nationalists. As PET said, that leads to "incremental separation". Quebecers know this and that is why more anglos prefer Liberals. The Sherbrooke Declaration proves this. 50%+1 is ok to break up a country, yet it takes 2/3 votes to change anything in the party itself. Before I get attacks, I am an NDP voter.

  2. Whatever one's views on sovereignty, I'd hope we can at least agree that it's a remote prospect at the moment. And the best way to ensure it never becomes an issue again is to make sure Quebeckers see their priorities being reflected in Canada's federal government.

    And I wouldn't think the NDP is the only party which could be affected by Bloc-induced vote splits. In particular the Cons have been trying to use cultural exclusion as a wedge of their own, and might be vulnerable if the Bloc can portray itself as more-pure-laine-than-thou.