Gilles Duceppe talks niqabs, Energy East and Quebec

"I think that we have to make it clear that it is full equality between men and women and put an end to that and discuss something else," says Gilles Duceppe on niqab debate.

Bloc Québécois leader says his party represents Quebec's future, values and interests

Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe weighs in on federal election issues. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe ​has just a few weeks left to pitch his party to voters.

The Bloc went into the campaign with two seats in the House of Commons.

This week he sat down with CBC Montreal's Daybreak host Mike Finnerty. 

Here are some key moments from the interview:

On the niqab

Over the last two weeks, the Bloc has come under fire for its position in favour of banning niqabs at citizenship ceremonies.

Duceppe said it was a question of principle and gender equality in society.

"I think that we have to make it clear that it is full equality between men and women and put an end to that and discuss something else. I think that it should have been done since the last four years," Duceppe said.

Back in June when Duceppe took back the helm of the Bloc, Duceppe told Daybreak that the party's advertisements denouncing niqabs was not a good strategy.

"I think we have to debate politely with people if we want to convince them," said Duceppe at the time.

Now, Duceppe said that the advertising campaign differentiates the Bloc from the New Democratic Party.

"The advertising was different this time around. We were discussing the support for TransCanada pipeline so illustrating two differences, important differences with the NDP and us during that debate," said Duceppe today.

On Energy East pipeline

The Bloc Québécois leader insists the pipeline won't pass through Montreal. 1:27

Duceppe went on the attack over TransCanada's proposed Energy East pipeline project, going so far as to allege the company is misleading the public.

TransCanada says the pipeline would bring oil to refineries in Montreal and Lévis, Que., as well as Saint John, N.B.

But Duceppe was adamant the oil won't be refined in Quebec.

"No not at all, you're wrong on that," Duceppe said to Daybreak.

"Maybe they are lying, period... That oil, not TransCanada with the Energy East, not at all. It won't be refined," he continued.

Later in the program Tuesday, TransCanada spokesman Tim Duboyce says the oil will indeed be transported to refineries in Montreal's east end and Levis, Quebec. 

Duboyce said the issue is "black and white."

"We have inter-connection agreement with Suncor in East End Montreal, with Valero in Lévis across from Quebec City, and with Irving oil in St-John, New Brunswick," Duboyce said.

"The fact of the matter is we have these agreements in place, and that is a key component to the reason for building Energy East."

On Quebec sovereignty

The Bloc will fight for Quebec's future, interests and values and at the federal level, said Duceppe.

"We need people to represent Quebec in Ottawa," said Duceppe. "And the strategic vote, especially for sovereignists, is to vote for sovereigntists."

The NDP failed to support Quebec since the orange wave in 2011, said Duceppe.


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