Layton, Duceppe on the hustings while other leaders rest

An NDP government would boost federal funding for women's programs, party leader Jack Layton said Sunday.

NDP government would be good for women's rights, leader says

An NDP government would boost federal funding for women's programs, party Leader Jack Layton said Sunday.

At a lunch for NDP candidate Françoise Boivin in Gatineau, Que., Layton accused the Conservative government of gutting funding for women's groups.

If Canadians elect the New Democratic Party in the federal election on Oct. 14, Layton promised that his government would restore that funding and add another $120 million a year.

Layton says the fact that women account for two-thirds of minimum-wage earners shows government policies have failed to help women achieve equality.

"[Stephen Harper] does not like the pursuit of equality for women," Layton said. "Harper is a catastrophe for women in Canada."

CBC's Rosemary Barton, who is covering the NDP leader's campaign, said Layton has eye on winning a second seat in Quebec to follow up on the party's byelection success last year in the Montreal riding of Outremont.

That was the first Quebec seat ever taken by the NDP. The victor in that byelection, Thomas Mulcair, says the party hopes to win as many as 12 constituencies in the province on Oct. 14.

CBC's Barton says Boivin, the NDP's candidate in Gatineau and a former federal Liberal MP until she lost in 2006, is the key for Layton.

"She's very well known here and has a very real chance of winning, even though this not a place where the NDP would traditionally win," says Barton.

Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe was also campaigning Sunday, touring Montreal and the suburb of Laval.

The CBC reporter travelling with Duceppe, Tim Duboyce, says the campaign pitch continues to be urging people to vote for the Bloc to stop the Conservatives from winning a majority.

Duceppe asked Quebecers to vote for the Bloc, no matter what their political persuasion, arguing his party is better placed than the NDP, Liberals or Green party to thwart the Conservatives.

Layton and Duceppe were the only federal leaders to campaign on Sunday, as Harper, Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion, and Elizabeth May of the Green party took the day off.

Dion flies to Newfoundland on Sunday night, while Harper is expected to begin the second week of his campaign in the Ottawa area.