Gilles Duceppe drops Radio-Canada gig

Gilles Duceppe resigns from his new job as a commentator for Radio-Canada before ever making it to air.
Gilles Duceppe resigned as Bloc leader in May 2011 after the party was decimated in Canada's federal election. (Radio-Canada)
Former Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe has resigned from his new job as a commentator for Radio-Canada before ever making it to air.

Duceppe was recruited to be a weekly columnist on radio program Médium Large, scheduled to start Aug. 22.

But he backed away from the gig "after a misunderstanding about the nature of his mandate," CBC's French-language service said.

Show producers signed up the former Bloc leader to comment on issues in a variety of areas, including culture, science and sports.

The deal was called off Wednesday after Duceppe found out he wouldn't be able to talk politics.

CBC and Radio-Canada's code of journalism standards and practices stipulates a two-year "cooling off" period for ex-politicians who want to comment or report on politics.

Duceppe wasn't aware of the rule and decided to pass up the opportunity after being informed of the policy.

"We understand Mr. Duceppe's decision, and we regret that he wasn't told right from the start about the constraints imposed by our standards and practices," said Anne Sérode, who oversees Radio-Canada's Première Chaine, the equivalent of CBC Radio One.

Duceppe was leader of the Bloc Québécois for six elections until the most recent vote, on May 2, when the party was almost wiped off the electoral map. Duceppe lost his seat in Montreal's Laurier riding.

Earlier this week, Duceppe said that as the son of a famous actor, the father of children involved in theatre and a passionate sports fan, he'd have plenty of things to talk about besides politics.

His ill-fated gig earned him jabs from at least one former colleague.

"Duceppe; a career at Radio-Canada that lasted just as long as his bid to lead the PQ; 24 hours," said a tweet from Jean Lapierre, former federal Liberal Party cabinet minister, and a former Bloc member.

Lapierre was referring to Duceppe's weekend-long bid for the Parti Québécois leadership in 2007. At the time he was arguably Quebec's most popular politician.

But his leadership hopes were dashed by party insiders, and within 48 hours of his announcement, he deferred to Pauline Marois, who was eventually elected PQ leader by acclamation.

With files from the Canadian Press