Activist grabbed by Chrétien runs for office

The activist once grabbed by the neck and wrestled to the ground in 1996 by then-prime minister Jean Chrétien is running for office in the Quebec election.

Opponent's counting questioned

Theactivist oncegrabbed by the neck and wrestled to the ground in 1996by then-prime minister Jean Chrétien is running for office in the Quebec election.

Bill Clennett is running as a candidate for Québec Solidaire, a left-wing sovereigntist party, in western Quebec's Hull riding, which has been held by the Liberals since 1981.

Clennett said the sovereigntist Parti Québécois has turned its back on its socially progressive roots, and his party is trying to fill the gap.

He said he hopesthey will gain some attention and attract enough votes to secure public funding for the next Quebec election.

"We'd like to believe that we could generate some interest from people who have sort of dropped out to some extent— they are no longer voting," he said. "There's an incredible, dangerous growth in people who are just outside of the system."

Clennett's famous encounter with Chrétien happened on Feb. 15, 1996, whenClennett was protesting planned cuts to unemployment insurance at the commemoration of Canada's first National Flag Day in Hull, Que., which is now part of Gatineau.

Video footage showed that Chrétien was approached by Clennett, and the prime minister appeared to grab the protester by theneck and push him to the ground.

Later, Chrétien said he was not quite sure what happened.

"Some people came in my way … I had to go so if you're in my way, I'm walking," he said. "So I don't know what happened … something to somebody [who] should not have been there."

Clennett made headlines again in 1999 when he threw balloons full of red paint on Langevin Block, the Ottawa building that houses the Prime Minister's Office.

He was later fined $500 and placed on probation.

Cholette's counting questioned

Clennett is running against Liberal incumbent Roch Cholette, who was criticized for apparently presenting inflated statistics about his achievements in office while launching his campaign Thursday.

Cholette claimed that 20 new doctors started practicing in the Outaouais since 2003, but Quebec's ministry of health figures show only 7.

Cholette also said 900 units of low-income housing have been renovated or built since 2003, which is disputed by housing advocacy group Logemen'occupe.

Spokesman François Roy said his numbers show 326 low-income units have been added to the region since 2002, with 177 scheduled to become available in the coming months.