Gilles Duceppe


Gilles Duceppe (French pronunciation: [ʒil dysɛp]; born July 22, 1947) is a retired Canadian politician, proponent of the Quebec sovereignty movement and former leader of the Bloc Québécois. He was a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons of Canada for over 20 years and has been the leader of the sovereigntist Bloc Québécois for 15 years in three stints: 1996, 1997-2011 and in 2015. He was Leader of the Official Opposition in the Parliament of Canada from March 17, 1997, to June 1, 1997. He resigned as party leader after the 2011 election, in which he lost his own seat to New Democratic Party (NDP) candidate Hélène Laverdière and his party suffered a heavy defeat; however, he returned four years later to lead the party into the 2015 election.[1][2] After being defeated in his own riding by Laverdière again, he resigned once more.[3]

Gilles Duceppe
Duceppe in 2011
Leader of the Opposition
In office
March 15, 1997  June 1, 1997
Preceded byMichel Gauthier
Succeeded byPreston Manning
In office
January 16, 1996  February 17, 1996
Preceded byLucien Bouchard
Succeeded byMichel Gauthier
Leader of the Bloc Québécois
In office
June 10, 2015  October 22, 2015
Preceded byMario Beaulieu
Succeeded byRhéal Fortin (interim)
In office
March 15, 1997  May 2, 2011
Preceded byMichel Gauthier
Succeeded byVivian Barbot (interim)
In office
January 16, 1996  February 17, 1996 (interim)
Preceded byLucien Bouchard
Succeeded byMichel Gauthier
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Laurier—Sainte-Marie
In office
August 13, 1990  May 2, 2011
Preceded byJean-Claude Malépart
Succeeded byHélène Laverdière
Personal details
Born (1947-07-22) July 22, 1947 (age 73)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Political partyBloc Québécois
Other political
affiliations
Workers' Communist Party of Canada (formerly)
Spouse(s)Yolande Brunelle
ChildrenAmélie, Alexis
Profession
Signature

He is the son of a well-known Quebec actor, Jean Duceppe.

Early life and education


Duceppe was born in Montreal, Quebec, the son of Hélène (née Rowley) and actor Jean Duceppe. His maternal grandfather was John James Rowley, a Briton by birth, an Irish by descent, and a home child.[4] Duceppe often quips of his British roots, once saying "I'm a bloke who turned Bloc."[5]

Duceppe has told the story of an Anglophone Grade 6 teacher slapping him after he complained about preferential treatment being given to anglophone students.[6] Duceppe claimed he slapped the teacher back. He became a sovereigntist by the age of 20, inspired by René Lévesque and the founding of the Mouvement Souveraineté-Association.[7]

Duceppe completed his high school studies at the Collège Mont-Saint-Louis. Duceppe then studied political science at the Université de Montréal but did not complete his program of study. While attending the Université de Montréal, he became general manager of the school's newspaper, Quartier Latin. In his youth, he advocated communism, and held membership in the Workers' Communist Party of Canada (WCP), a Maoist group. Duceppe later claimed that his three-year membership in the WCP was a mistake brought on by a search for absolute answers.[7][8]

However, during this period (which lasted well into his thirties) he subscribed to militant Maoist ideology and was fired from his job as a hospital orderly for belligerent activities.[9][8] Duceppe even went so far as to intentionally spoil his 1980 sovereignty-association referendum ballot arguing that Québécois should instead focus their efforts on staying united to fight capitalism.[8]

Early career

Before becoming a member of Parliament, Duceppe worked as a hospital orderly and later became a trade union negotiator. In 1968 he became vice-president of the Union générale des étudiants du Québec (General Union of Quebec Students) and in 1970 manager of the Université de Montréal student paper, Quartier latin. In 1972 he launched his career in community and union settings, as moderator for the citizen's committee of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, then in 1977 as a representative for the Royal Victoria Hospital employees. In 1981 he became a union organizer for the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (Confederation of National Trade Unions), where he became a negotiator in 1986.[8]

Parliament


Election

In 1990, Duceppe was elected to the House of Commons of Canada in a by-election for the eastern Montreal riding of Laurier—Sainte-Marie. He defeated Liberal Denis Coderre, who would later serve alongside Duceppe in Parliament before becoming Mayor of Montreal. Duceppe would be handily re-elected at each election from 1993 to 2008.

Tenure

Duceppe originally sat as an independent because the Bloc had not been registered by Elections Canada as a political party. All of the Bloc's other Members of Parliament had crossed the floor from either the Progressive Conservative Party or the Liberal Party earlier that year. Duceppe's victory demonstrated — for the first time — that the party had electoral support in Quebec and could win elections. Previously, many pundits (and members of other parties) predicted that the Bloc would not gain traction with ordinary voters in Quebec.[10]

Leadership of the Bloc Québécois


Gilles Duceppe during a 2007 protest.

In 1996, when Lucien Bouchard stepped down as Bloc leader to become leader of the Parti Québécois, Duceppe served as interim leader of the party. Michel Gauthier eventually became the official leader later that year. However, Gauthier's lack of visibility in both Quebec and English Canada coupled with his weak leadership resulted in the party forcing him out in 1997. Duceppe won the ensuing leadership contest and became the official leader of the Bloc Québécois and Leader of the Opposition.[8]

In the 1997 general election, the Bloc lost official opposition status, slipping to third place in the House of Commons behind Preston Manning's Reform Party. During the campaign, Duceppe visited a cheese factory where he was photographed wearing a hairnet resembling a shower cap, which was widely parodied on Canadian television.[8][11]

The Bloc lost more support during the 2000 election, winning just 38 seats. Over this period, critics derided Duceppe as an ineffectual campaigner, though no serious challenge to his leadership emerged.[8]

When Jean Chrétien stepped down as Prime Minister, to be succeeded by Paul Martin, the Bloc's fortunes improved markedly, particularly after the sponsorship scandal erupted. Duceppe strongly criticized the Liberals over the misuse and misdirection of public funds intended for government advertising in Quebec. During the election's national debates, Duceppe's lucid explanations of Bloc Québécois policies and his chastising of the other national party leaders' promises, resulted in both the French and English media ruling him the best speaker. In the 2004 election, Duceppe's Bloc won 54 seats in the Commons, nearly equaling what it had won in its 1993 breakthrough, while Martin's Liberals were reduced to a minority government.

With Chrétien's departure, Duceppe became the longest-serving leader of a major party in Canada. With the recent success of the Bloc, and his recently well-received performance as leader, speculation mounted that Duceppe might seek the leadership of the Parti Québécois – particularly when Bernard Landry stepped down as party leader on June 4, 2005. On June 13, 2005, Duceppe announced that he would not run for the leadership of the PQ.[12]

Gilles Duceppe discussing with a voter during the 2011 federal election campaign.

Ducceppe's Bloc, along with the Stephen Harper's Conservatives and Jack Layton's NDP, worked together on November 28, 2005 to pass a motion of no confidence in the minority Liberal government of Prime Minister Paul Martin after findings in the Sponsorship Scandal. In the resultant 2006 federal election, many Bloc insiders believed that Duceppe's popularity, combined with the unpopularity of the federal Liberal Party in Quebec, would push the Bloc Québécois over the symbolic majority vote mark among Quebec voters. Many Quebec separatists felt that a strong performance by the Bloc in the 2006 federal election would boost the sovereignty movement and perhaps set the stage for a new referendum on secession after the anticipated Quebec provincial election expected in 2007. In actuality, a late surge in Conservative and federalist support kept the Bloc's share of the popular vote below 43% giving the Bloc only 51 seats.[13] The Conservatives' gains in Quebec, as well as Ontario, gave the party enough seats to form a minority government with Harper as prime minister, replacing the Liberals' Paul Martin. The unimpressive and lackluster results on election night called into question the level of separatist support in Quebec.

In the March 26, 2007 Quebec provincial election, the Parti Québécois found itself reduced to third place in the National Assembly of Quebec, behind both the governing Quebec Liberal Party and the opposition Action démocratique du Québec. Following this disappointing result, the PQ leader, André Boisclair, announced his resignation on May 8, 2007. Duceppe confirmed on May 11, 2007, that he would seek the PQ leadership[14] but the next day he withdrew from the race.[15] After his withdrawal, Duceppe announced that he would support two-time leadership hopeful Pauline Marois.[16]

2008 federal election

In the 2008 federal election, Duceppe led the Bloc Québécois to 49 seats, up one from its pre-dissolution standing of 48.[17] However, the Bloc's share of the popular vote fell again, to 38%, its lowest result since 1997. After the election, Liberals and NDP reached a deal form a minority coalition government with support from the Bloc Québécois, which would have toppled the minority Conservative government, however the Governor General agreed to prorogue parliament before the vote could take place. After prorogation, the Liberals underwent a change in leadership and distanced themselves from the coalition agreement and supported the Conservatives' budget. However Duceppe's Bloc and Jack Layton's NDP remained committed to voting against the Conservatives.

2011 federal election and resignation

In 2011, the Bloc cooperated with the Liberals and NDP to find the Conservative government in Contempt of Parliament, after all three opposition parties indicated that they would not accept the Conservatives' budget, leading Prime Minister Harper to request the dissolution of parliament. The Bloc demanded $5 billion for the province, including compensation for damages from the January 1998 North American ice storm and $175 million towards a new hockey arena to bring back the Quebec Nordiques, which the Conservatives dismissed outright.[18][19][20]

In the resultant 2011 federal election, the Bloc suffered a massive 43-seat loss—including many seats they'd held since their 1993 breakthrough—cutting them down to a rump of four seats. Much of that support bled to the NDP who ascended from fourth place to second place to become the Official Opposition, largely by winning 58 seats in Quebec which included a sweep of the Bloc's heartlands in Quebec City and eastern Montreal. The NDP, which entered the election with only one seat in the province - Tom Mulcair - had surged in the last weeks of the campaign at the expense of the Bloc due to NDP leader Jack Layton's charismatic personality and leftist nationalism policies, while Bloc "over the years defend[ed] Quebec's interests, but the sovereigntist agenda is no longer very relevant".[21] Duceppe lost his own seat to NDP challenger Hélène Laverdière by 5,400 votes.

Accepting responsibility for the Bloc's crushing defeat, Duceppe announced his pending resignation as Bloc leader soon after the result was beyond doubt. He remained defiant, however, vowing not to rest "until Quebec becomes a country".[22]

Spending allegations

In January 2012, Duceppe was accused of having used funds designated for his parliamentary office to pay the Bloc Québécois' general manager over a seven-year period. Duceppe denied any wrongdoing when testifying before the House of Commons Board of Internal Economy in February.[23] In November 2012, the House of Commons Board of Internal Economy found that Duceppe misused funds. However, the board cannot take disciplinary action as the money was spent before the by-laws around the issue were changed.[24]

Retirement and brief return to politics


Duceppe has worked as a political analyst since his departure from parliament. In 2014, he denounced comments made by newly elected Bloc leader Mario Beaulieu in which he seemingly dismissed the Bloc under Duceppe as having followed a gradualist strategy for achieving sovereignty which Beaulieu characterised as defeatist and for invoking the phrase "nous vaincrons" (we will vanquish), which was a slogan employed by the paramilitary Front de libération du Québec.[25]

After two years of further decline in the polls and internal divisions, it was announced June 10, 2015 that Duceppe would be returning to lead the Bloc into the campaign while his successor, Mario Beaulieu would relinquish the leadership but remain party president.[26][27] The party executive agreed on June 9, 2015, to split the positions of president and party leader in order to facilitate Duceppe's return. The changes were ratified by the party's general council[28] on July 1.[29][30]

On August 1, 2015, it was reported that Duceppe had decided to contest his former riding of Laurier-Sainte-Marie in the upcoming federal election and that he would announce this in a press conference shortly after the election was called, which occurred on August 2.[31] However, while leading his party to a win of 10 seats in the October 19, 2015 election, up from two, Duceppe was personally defeated in his riding and announced his resignation as leader several days later.[32]

Duceppe's son Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe was elected to parliament in the 2019 federal election.[33]

Electoral record


Canadian federal by-election, 13 August 1990: Laurier—Sainte-Marie
Death of Jean-Claude Malépart
Party Candidate Votes%±%
IndependentGilles Duceppe16,81866.9
LiberalDenis Coderre4,81219.1−19.9
New DemocraticLouise O'Neill1,8217.2−14.4
Progressive ConservativeChristian Fortin1,1204.5−25.2
GreenMichel Szabo3951.6−1.9
IndependentDaniel Perreault1230.5
IndependentRejean Robidoux420.2
Total valid votes 25,131100.0
1993 Canadian federal election: Laurier—Sainte-Marie
Party Candidate Votes%±%Expenditures
Bloc QuébécoisGilles Duceppe25,06061.79$39,969
LiberalRobert Desbiens9,94024.51−14.56$41,625
Progressive ConservativeYvan Routhier2,1565.32−24.34$19,947
New DemocraticAlain Gravel1,2373.05−18.57$5,169
GreenJohn Tromp1,0502.59−0.93$1,304
Natural LawPierre Bergeron6521.61$0
Marxist–LeninistNormand Chouinard2050.51+0.19$80
Communist LeagueMichel Dugré1310.32$507
Commonwealth of CanadaSophie Brassard1270.31+0.12$0
Total valid votes 40,558 100.00
Total rejected ballots 1,592
Turnout 42,150 71.29 +1.96
Electors on the lists 59,126
Source: Thirty-fifth General Election, 1993: Official Voting Results, Published by the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada. Financial figures taken from the official contributions and expenses submitted by the candidates, provided by Elections Canada. Percentage change figures are made in relation to the 1988 general election, not the 1990 by-election.
1997 Canadian federal election: Laurier—Sainte-Marie
Party Candidate Votes%±%
Bloc QuébécoisGilles Duceppe26,54654.7−7.0
LiberalDavid Ly11,15423.0−1.6
Progressive ConservativeYanick Deschênes5,80812.0+6.6
New DemocraticFrançois Degardin2,1804.5+1.4
IndependentFrançois Gourd1,2552.6
GreenDylan Perceval-Maxwell1,1672.4−0.2
Marxist–LeninistSerge Lachapelle3380.7+0.2
IndependentMathieu Ravignat1230.3
Total valid votes 48,571100.0
2000 Canadian federal election: Laurier—Sainte-Marie
Party Candidate Votes%±%
Bloc QuébécoisGilles Duceppe23,47352.8−1.9
LiberalJean Philippe Côté11,45125.7+2.8
GreenDylan Perceval-Maxwell2,1694.9+2.5
MarijuanaMarc-Boris St-Maurice2,1564.8
New DemocraticRichard Chartier2,1214.8+0.3
Progressive ConservativeJean François Tessier1,8794.2−7.7
AllianceStéphane Prud'homme9602.2
Marxist–LeninistGinette Boutet2690.6−0.1
Total valid votes 44,478100.0
2004 Canadian federal election: Laurier
Party Candidate Votes%±%Expenditures
Bloc QuébécoisGilles Duceppe28,72860.1+7.3$69,284
LiberalJean-François Thibault8,45417.7−8.1$52,945
New DemocraticFrançois Grégoire5,77912.1+7.3$5,400
GreenDylan Perceval-Maxwell2,9126.1+1.2$2,801
ConservativePierre Albert1,2242.6−3.8$4,658
MarijuanaNicky Tanguay5721.2−3.7
Marxist–LeninistGinette Boutet1540.3−0.3
Total valid votes/Expense limit 47,823 100.0 $79,214
Note: Conservative vote is compared to the total of the Canadian Alliance vote and Progressive Conservative vote in the 2000 election in the riding of Laurier—Sainte-Marie.
2006 Canadian federal election: Laurier—Sainte-Marie
Party Candidate Votes%±%Expenditures
Bloc QuébécoisGilles Duceppe26,77354.69−5.4$74,181
New DemocraticFrançois Grégoire8,16516.67+4.6$20,195
LiberalSoeung Tang6,09512.45−5.2$12,436
GreenDylan Perceval-Maxwell4,0648.30+2.2$2,265
ConservativeCarlos De Sousa3,1246.38+3.8$15,665
MarijuanaNicky Tanguay3380.69−0.5
IndependentJocelyne Leduc1570.32*
Marxist–LeninistGinette Boutet1370.27−0.0
CommunistEvelyn Elizabeth Ruiz1000.20*$926
Total valid votes/Expense limit 48,953100.00$79,692
Total rejected ballots 392 0.79
Turnout 49,345 61.26
2008 Canadian federal election: Laurier—Sainte-Marie
Party Candidate Votes%±%Expenditures
Bloc QuébécoisGilles Duceppe24,10350.24−4.45$71,127
LiberalSébastien Caron8,79818.33+5.88$30,225
New DemocraticFrançois Grégoire8,20917.11+0.44$31,151
GreenDylan Perceval-Maxwell3,8017.92−0.38$7,171
ConservativeCharles K. Langford2,3204.83−1.55$5,590
RhinocerosFrançois Yo Gourd4470.93$388
Marxist–LeninistSerge Lachapelle1180.24−0.03
IndependentDaniel "F4J" Laforest930.19
CommunistSamie Pagé-Quirion860.17−0.03$898
Total valid votes/Expense limit 47,975100.00$84,641
Total rejected ballots 4060.84
Turnout 48,381 61.10
2011 Canadian federal election: Laurier—Sainte-Marie
Party Candidate Votes%±%Expenditures
New DemocraticHélène Laverdière23,37346.64+29.53$22,982
Bloc QuébécoisGilles Duceppe17,99135.90−14.34$81,167
LiberalPhilippe Allard4,9769.93−8.40$16,728
ConservativeCharles K. Langford1,7643.52−1.31$4,611
GreenOlivier Adam1,3242.64−5.28$1,532
RhinocerosFrançois Yo Gourd3980.79−0.14none listed
CommunistSylvain Archambault1370.27+0.10$1,606
Marxist–LeninistSerge Lachapelle770.15−0.09none listed
IndependentDimitri Mourkes730.15none listed
Total valid votes/Expense limit 50,113100.00
Total rejected ballots 4710.93
Turnout 50,58463.41
Electors on the lists 79,772
New Democratic gain from Bloc Québécois Swing +21.94%
Source: Official Results, Elections Canada and Financial Returns, Elections Canada.
2015 Canadian federal election: Laurier—Sainte-Marie
Party Candidate Votes%±%Expenditures
New DemocraticHélène Laverdière18,12937.76%-8.88
Bloc QuébécoisGilles Duceppe13,56528.25%-7.65
LiberalChristine Poirier11,72924.43%+14.50
ConservativeDaniel Gaudreau2,0484.26%+0.74
GreenCyrille Giraud1,6733.48%+0.84
LibertarianStéphane Beaulieu5411.13%
IndependentJulien Bernatchez1430.30%+0.15
Marxist–LeninistSerge Lachapelle950.20%+0.05
CommunistPierre Fontaine900.19%-0.08
Total valid votes/Expense limit 100.0   $221,434.26
Total rejected ballots
Turnout 48,01357.34%
Eligible voters 83,730
Source: Elections Canada[34][35]

References


  1. "Duceppe quits after BQ crushed in Quebec". CBC News. 2 May 2011. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  2. "Willingness to be united - pushed Gilles Duceppe to accept Bloc Québécois leadership". Montreal Gazette. 10 June 2015. Retrieved 10 June 2015.
  3. "Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe to step down". cbc.ca. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
  4. "Former Bloc leader Duceppe rallies for rights of British Home Children". Montreal Gazette. 2017-02-27. Retrieved 2020-09-07.
  5. "Gilles Duceppe on Quebec Sovereignty". YouTube. 2010-04-08. Retrieved 2011-06-06.
  6. "Gilles Duceppe, elegant separatist". CBC News. 2008. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  7. "Gilles Duceppe: Leader, Bloc Québécois". CBC.ca. Retrieved 2011-05-12.
  8. "The Globe and Mail on Duceppe". The Globe and Mail. 14 June 2004. Archived from the original on September 1, 2004. Retrieved April 22, 2014.
  9. https://montrealgazette.com/news/quebec-election-lisee-admits-he-flirted-with-communism-in-university
  10. "Gilles Duceppe: a pledge to sovereignty". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Digital Archives. 23 September 1990. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  11. "Gilles Duceppe's hairnet raises eyebrows". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Digital Archives. 9 June 1997. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  12. "CBC News Indepth: Parti Quebecois Timeline". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 16 November 2005. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  13. "Conservatives make breakthrough in Quebec; Bloc wins 51 seats". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 24 January 2006. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  14. "Duceppe, Marois will run for the PQ's top spot". CBC News. 11 May 2007. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  15. "Duceppe drops out of PQ race". CBC News. 2007-05-12. Retrieved 2018-06-04.
  16. "Gilles Duceppe se retire". Lcn.canoe.com. 2009-04-23. Retrieved 2010-01-31.
  17. "Harper 'very pleased' with stronger minority". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 15 October 2008. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  18. "Duceppe resigns as Bloc leader after losing riding". The Globe and Mail. 24 August 2012. Retrieved 26 May 2013.
  19. "Ex-Bloc leader's testimony raises more questions". CBC News. 13 February 2012. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  20. "Commons board finds ex-BQ leader Duceppe misused House funds". CBC News. 27 November 2012. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  21. "Duceppe croit que le chef du Bloc devrait rectifier certains de ses propos". August 26, 2014. Retrieved August 27, 2014.
  22. "DUCEPPE, Gilles". House of Commons of Canada. Archived from the original on August 10, 2015. Retrieved August 8, 2015.
  23. "Gilles Duceppe returns to lead Bloc Quebecois". CTV News. June 10, 2015. Retrieved June 10, 2015.
  24. "Gilles Duceppe announces return to Bloc Québécois leadership". CBC News. June 10, 2015.
  25. "On Canada Day, Duceppe officially takes over Bloc Québécois".
  26. "Returning Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe targets NDP for fall election". Globe and Mail. June 10, 2015. Retrieved June 10, 2015.
  27. "Gilles Duceppe devrait se présenter dans Laurier Sainte-Marie". Le Devoir. August 1, 2015. Retrieved August 2, 2015.
  28. "Bloc makes gains, but Gilles Duceppe loses his riding".
  29. Raphaël Lavoie, "Gilles Duceppe apprend la victoire de son fils dans un émouvant moment de télé". Le Journal de Québec, October 22, 2019.
  30. "Voter Information Service - Who are the candidates in my electoral district?".
  31. Elections Canada – Preliminary Election Expenses Limits for Candidates Archived August 15, 2015, at the Wayback Machine