There are more children living in poverty now than there were when you took office. That's what Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe said to Paul Martin in the French language leaders debate on Monday. He went on to criticize Martin for paying off the federal government's debt on the backs of Canada's unemployed workers.
He also took Martin to task for tax breaks to the oil industry and for generous foreign tax shelters to companies like Martin's former company, Canada Steamship Lines.
As a socialist and a New Democrat, I would have preferred to have seen Jack Layton scoring points like these. As a Quebecer, I'm glad Gilles Duceppe was there to fill the void.
This is not a criticism of Layton. His heart was clearly in the right place. The NDP leader talked in general terms about 10 years of broken Liberal promises from health care to day care and tax reductions for the well-off but he wasn't able to challenge Martin on specifics like Gilles Duceppe was.
When Layton squared off against Duceppe on tackling the health care problem, he found himself scrambling to explain why the federal government should be treading on the provincial domain of health by amending the Canada Health Act to guard against privatization. Layton was able to cite examples of privatization in Ontario and B.C. but he failed to mention the measures taken by the much-despised Jean Charest government in Quebec that would have resonated with health care workers and patients in this province.
The good news is Martin unquestionably lost the debate in Quebec. He was trounced by arguments coming from the left. The bad news is, it was Gilles Duceppe who won, not Jack Layton.
Don't hold your breath for a Quebec breakthrough for the NDP. Gilles Duceppe and the Bloc have carried the day in la belle province.
Of course, this is all water under the bridge now. There is nothing the NDP can do to change the outcome of the French language debates. But I hope the NDP communications team was taking notes. If Jack Layton can do in the English debates what Gilles Duceppe did in the French debates, there is still hope for the NDP outside Quebec.
Bonne chance, mon ami.
Thank you for reading this story…
More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.
rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.
So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.
And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.