Canadian opposition MP defects to Quebec separatists

Thu Feb 28, 2013 12:14pm EST
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* Gives psychological boost to separatist Bloc Quebecois

* Balance of power in Canadian House of Commons not affected

* MP says always wanted Quebec to become independent country

OTTAWA, Feb 28 (Reuters) - An opposition legislator in the Canadian House of Commons defected to the separatist Bloc Quebecois on Wednesday, arguing that it was unacceptable that Canada put conditions on how and when the French-speaking province of Quebec could separate.

The move by New Democratic Party (NDP) Member of Parliament Claude Patry will not have an immediate effect on the balance of power, but it is an important jolt for the separatist cause after its poor showing in the 2011 federal election.

"I voted for the sovereignty of Quebec in the last two referendums and I hoped Quebec would become a country, and I still hope so," Patry said in a statement.

"Like many Quebec citizens in 2011, I thought the NDP would act differently than the Liberals and Conservatives and that it would truly recognize the aspirations of the Quebec nation."

The NDP positions taken in recent debates on issues including the Clarity Act - which says Quebec can only separate with a clear majority on a clear question - convinced him otherwise, he said.

The previous Liberal government brought in the Clarity Act after the separatists came within a whisker of getting majority support for sovereignty in a 1995 referendum.   Continued...