OTTAWA — Gilles Duceppe isn’t thrilled with the way his return to politics is being portrayed.
The returning leader of the Bloc Quebecois said Thursday he’s isn’t being given a fair shake by the media and other observers outside Quebec.
Duceppe rattled off a list of names of famous politicians who staged comebacks and were treated with more respect: Robert Bourassa, Jean Charest, Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Ed Broadbent, among others.
He says their respective returns to public life were celebrated and they were praised for perseverance and determination.
If that was true for them, Duceppe says that it should be the same for him.
Duceppe didn’t cite any examples of how he is being unfairly portrayed and asked to specify who was responsible for the treatment, Duceppe said he was making reference to “Canada and journalists, too.”
Duceppe cited the example of Broadbent, a former NDP leader who quit in 1989 and returned as an MP in 2004.
“When Ed Broadbent returned, you welcomed it saying ‘what a great parliamentarian’,” Duceppe said in his first Ottawa event since returning as leader on Wednesday. “And it was true — but if it was true for the other side, we can’t have a double standard.”
Duceppe, 67, was first elected after winning a byelection in 1990.
The Bloc was founded in 1991 and ran a full slate of candidates in the 1993 election, winning 54 of the 75 seats under Lucien Bouchard.
Duceppe became leader in 1997 and under his stewardship, the party won 44, 38, 54, 51 and 49 seats before a 2011 meltdown that left them with four seats.
He assumes the leadership under vastly different conditions as the Bloc only has two MPs and one isn’t seeking re-election.
Duceppe assured the party will run candidates in all 78 Quebec ridings, but they’ve only named candidates in about one-third.
Accompanied by about 20 Bloc candidates, Duceppe spent several minutes attacking the NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, whose party holds the majority of seats in Quebec.
Duceppe said Mulcair hasn’t done enough to defend Quebec’s interests, nor have the Conservatives.
“They had a cabinet minister who was in the riding with the Davie shipyard when the contracts were awarded to Halifax and Vancouver,” Duceppe said, referring to Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney without naming him.
Duceppe hasn’t said which riding he’ll run in. He won’t predict how many seats he’d like to win.
On the questions of seats, Duceppe said he took inspiration from quotable baseball great Yogi Berra, who he called his favourite philosopher.
“I never make predictions, especially about the future.”
Melanie Marquis, The Canadian Press