Gilles Duceppe, who likes to say he’s the cook in his household, went to the sprawling Jean Talon Market in Montreal to buy rack of lamb, onions and some exquisite Quebec cheeses for a family dinner tomorrow night. What he didn’t bargain for, however, was Justin Trudeau on the menu.
As Duceppe was coming out of the Chez Louis vegetable market, backs stiffened. Trudeau was waiting.
Journalists following Duceppe, who’d heard Trudeau was in the vicinity earlier, were hoping for a kind of clash of the titans, one a sovereigntist, the other, the son of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, holding a name synonymous with federalism. Since Duceppe was accompanied by Vivian Barbot, the incumbent candidate in the adjacent riding of Papineau, who’s up against Trudeau, the anticipation was high.
It turned out to be cordial, if not friendly. They exchanged hellos, said that all is going well. Then Duceppe said, “I’d like to introduce your M.P.,” to which Trudeau replied they had already met.
Then, Duceppe, unable to resist a small barb: “You will come to see Vivian in Ottawa…”
Trudeau afterwards said he didn’t know Duceppe was also at the market until after he went there for lunch and to shake some hands.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for anyone who throws their hat in the ring, anyone who serves their country,” he said, adding with some irony, “however they define their country.”
Duceppe had spent the day trying to encourage environmentalists in Quebec to vote for the Bloc, instead of the Green Party, to prevent splitting the vote among progressive forces. He repeated that only the Bloc can stop a Harper majority in this province.
The Bloc is also running ads and has put up signs against the NDP. When asked by the Star whether this was because he recognizes these parties are now, for the first time, viable alternatives in Quebec, particularly for former Bloc voters in an era of faltering sovereignty, he simply repeated his contention that the Bloc is in the best position to stop the Tories.
- Andrew Chung