Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe says Tuesday night's election results mean Stephen Harper will have to compromise more with the opposition parties, and he also says the prime minister should respect his own fixed-date election law by waiting four years before calling another vote.
The Bloc won 50 of Quebec's 75 federal seats. "That's the reality. It's been six consecutive times that we've had a majority. I don't think there's another party that can claim that," Duceppe told a news conference Wednesday morning.
Duceppe said Harper will have to compromise with the Bloc and the other opposition parties to reach agreements on policy.
That means softening on unpopular promises, such as beefing up the Criminal Code to crack down on young offenders, Duceppe said.
Sovereignty not at forefront
Duceppe admitted Quebec sovereignty wasn't the biggest election issue this time out, and he vowed not to be an "opportunist" and use his majority to push forward a separatist agenda.
However, he insisted the debate over Quebec's political future isn't over.
"The majority of the seats were given to a sovereigntist party and I'm proud of that," he said.
Now that the rest of Canada has finally recognized Quebec as a nation, Duceppe said, the next step will be to build on that.
"Recognizing Quebec as a nation is not recognizing Quebec sovereignty; but recognizing the Quebec nation, like this House did, is a good thing certainly for Quebec, and anything good for Quebec is something good for sovereignty," he said.
The Bloc's priorities when Parliament resumes will include asking for French to become the working language in Quebec for federally chartered companies, Duceppe said.
"I just don't know how you can recognize the Quebec nation without recognizing the language of that nation," he said.
Tuesday's election drew a record low turnout of voters, with less than 60 per cent of eligible voters showing up at the polls.
Duceppe blamed the turnout on Harper. He said Harper encouraged cynicism over the snap election, because he ignored his own fixed-date election law, which wouldn't have allowed an election until next year.