Separatists say Quebec can stop Conservatives

Fri Oct 3, 2008 5:07pm EDT
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By Ka Yan Ng

TORONTO (Reuters) - The leader of the separatist Bloc Quebecois made an unusual campaign stop outside Quebec on Friday, but Gilles Duceppe had a message of solidarity for neighboring Ontario, promising to block the ruling Conservatives' bid to win a majority in the upcoming election.

Duceppe, who has kept the blame spotlight on how the government's policies have hurt the Canadian economy, also joked at Prime Minister Stephen Harper's expense about his visit to Toronto, the heartland of English-speaking Canada.

"Harper had fun saying I was coming to grab votes from Torontonians. Of course I'm not," said Duceppe whose party field candidates only in French-speaking Quebec.

"One thing is for sure, nobody can grab seats from Mr. Harper in Toronto. He doesn't have any," Duceppe said, the day after party leaders held a televised debate in which no knock-out punches appeared to have been landed.

Polls show the Conservatives are set to retain power in the October 14 election and may have a good chance of turning their current minority in the House of Commons into a majority -- a result that Harper's rivals have played on in a bid to undermine soft Conservative support.

Some analysts have said Harper could see the Conservatives pick up much needed seats in Quebec.

"This election is about giving or not giving a majority to Stephen Harper. Quebec's vision and Stephen Harper's vision oppose each other," said Duceppe.

"And so, the only political force capable of stopping Stephen Harper is the Bloc Quebecois," he said.   Continued...

<p>Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe speaks to members of the financial community in Toronto October 3, 2008. Canadians will head to the polls in a federal election October 14. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>