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Gilles Duceppe: a pledge to sovereignty

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The Tories are in trouble. In 1990 the party is facing criticism for its Senate appointments and is losing ground to the Bloc Québécois, a party founded to defend Quebec's interests in Parliament. A byelection has netted the Bloc its first MP, union negotiator Gilles Duceppe. In this 1990 clip, Duceppe shrugs off the apparent contradiction in swearing an oath to the Queen, as all MPs must, while pledging to pursue Quebec sovereignty and the abolition of the monarchy.
• Gilles Duceppe has said that a formative moment in his quest for social justice came when his Grade 6 teacher slapped him after he complained of preferential treatment for anglophone students. He slapped her back. 

• Duceppe technically ran, and won, as an independent in the 1990 byelection, because the Bloc Québécois had yet to be incorporated as an official party. The party was founded by a group of Quebec MPs outraged by the failure of the Meech Lake Accord and led by Lucien Bouchard until 1995.

• In 1997 Duceppe became leader of the Bloc. He briefly flirted with leaving the post to lead the Parti Québécois in 2005 but ultimately decided he was more useful on the national stage.

• See a French-language clip of a much younger Duceppe from Les Archives de Radio-Canada.

• For more on the controversy over Mulroney's Senate appointments, see the CBC Archives clip Mulroney stacks Senate to pass the GST.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Sept. 23, 1990
Guest(s): Jean Chrétien, Gilles Duceppe, Audrey McLaughlin, Stan Wilbee
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Keith Boag
Duration: 2:22

Last updated: September 19, 2013

Page consulted on November 6, 2014

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