Gilles Duceppe's defence of arts and culture has gained him a new fan — CanLit Queen Margaret Atwood.

Atwood said she went to hear the Bloc Québécois leader speak at a Bay Street business luncheon Friday because of his strong endorsement for the arts.

"I'm here because Mr. Duceppe understands the contribution that culture makes to our economy," she told CBC News at Toronto's Economic Club.

Asked whether she would vote for the Bloc if she lived in Quebec, Atwood gave a resounding: "Yes, absolutely. What is the alternative?"

While the Bloc runs candidates in all 75 ridings in Quebec, the sovereigntist party has never sought electoral support outside the province.

In Wednesday's and Thursday's debates, Duceppe tore a strip off Stephen Harper for his Conservative government's $45-million cuts to arts and culture. Earlier in the campaign, Harper dismissed an outcry over the cuts as a "niche issue."

"How can you recognize the Quebec nation and then cut culture [funding], which is the soul of a nation?" Duceppe said to Harper on Thursday night.

Duceppe told the Toronto crowd that culture and the arts generate billions of dollars in revenue and employ more than one million people across the country.

"A Tory majority would mean more and more of the same destructive economic policies," he said Friday.

He also repeated his belief that the Conservatives have ignored the manufacturing sector in Ontario and Quebec, while rewarding Western oil companies with generous tax breaks.

"Quebec's visions and Stephen Harper's visions oppose each other. That's why in Quebec the vast majority thinks that we must not give Stephen Harper a blank cheque."

Duceppe said he didn't go to tell Ontarians how to vote, as long as it wasn't for Harper.

Duceppe is the son of revered Quebec actor Jean Duceppe, and both his son and daughter work in the movie industry.

With files from the Canadian Press