Nycole Turmel was a member of the Bloc – so what?

Nycole Turmel was a member of the Bloc – so what?

If the stock market were not giving the national media new red meat to gorge on, they would still be crunching the bones of NDP interim leader Nycole Turmel. It hasn’t helped her cause that she appears to be hapless during news conferences.

The Turmel teapot tempest also draws attention to staff work in the leader’s office. One assumes that most of what she says is calibrated and parsed before she heads out for a prime-time appearance. If that is so, the script needs work.


There were two progressive federal political parties in Quebec – the NDP and the Bloc Québécois. Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe, or Jack and Gilles, were seen at many of the same political events in support of many of the same demands. That is until May 2, when the Bloc was decimated, leaving only four right-wing Bloc MPs in the House.

The NDP took almost all of the Bloc’s seats, riding into Ottawa on the popularity of Jack Layton. You’d think that the political class would be pleased that Quebecers went from the separatist Bloc to the federalist NDP in one fell swoop. But no.

Why are they all piling on Turmel? To call it hypocritical is an understatement.

Here are a few other politicians with much closer ties to the separatist movement than Nycole Turmel:

Conservative Senator Michel Rivard was a PQ member in Quebec’s National Assembly.

Conservative Transport Minister Denis Lebel was a member of the Bloc for eight years, from 1993 to 2001.

Conservative Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism Maxime Bernier was a staffer and a political aide to former Parti Québécois leader and Péquiste Finance Minister Bernard Landry.

Jean Lapierre co-founded the Bloc before becoming Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin’s Quebec lieutenant.

No partisan attack is beneath neither the Conservatives nor, apparently and more disappointingly, what remains of the Bloc. A few weeks ago it was a leak from the Conservatives about Tom Mulcair and the Harper Conservatives. Now it is Nycole Turmel’s past membership in the Bloc, leaked by the Bloc, bitter about the election results.

The Bloc knew that this would embarrass their friends in the NDP and feed anti-Quebec sentiment across Canada.


So Sun News, The Globe and Mail and others keep on banging the drum of Nycole Turmel’s membership in the Bloc, and her friendship with Bloc MP Carole Lavallée. The same way they banged the drum of the "separatist and socialist coalition" in 2008.

The best way to drive Quebec right out of Canada is to keep on showing how obtuse the Canadian political class is about the fact that many Quebecers are ambivalent about Canada.

As are some outside of Quebec too, such as Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who signed onto the Alberta Agenda in 2001, along with five other right-wing politicians and academics from Alberta, calling for a firewall around Alberta to defend it from an aggressive and hostile federal government.

The Bloc and the Parti Québécois are legitimate political entities. A lot of Quebecers voted for them over and over again. Then they changed their minds. The same way Quebec voters went from massive support of the Liberals to the Bloc. Remember, almost half of Quebecers voted "oui" in the last referendum. But does that mean they’re all separatists? Not even close.

The people who voted Liberal, NDP and Bloc are just as entitled to be represented as those who voted for the Conservatives. Federalism is not a religion, with punishment meted out to miscreants.

From sea to sea to sea, Canadians have the right to differing opinions about their country and their role in it.

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