The Canadian Imagination

What it means to be Canadian; examining and reworking Canada as a nation.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Transcript - Gilles Duceppe

Bloc Québecois leader Gilles Duceppe's reply, released at 8 pm EST on 3 December. English translation courtesy of Jack Mitchell, linked below through the comments. I heard and read the original and this sounds about right. I have edited a word here and there for flow and because I remembered the original phrase, although I have not personally checked the translation word for word. - T

Good evening.

The Bloc Québécois is a party dedicated to serving only Québeckers. Barely 50 days ago, the voters handed us a very clear mandate. Québeckers asked us to keep defending Quebec's values and Québec's interests, and also to act as a check on the pull of Conservative ideology.

In this time of economic crisis, it is our duty to rise above partisan interests. That is why the Bloc Québécois has been the only party to present an economic stimulus plan, well-researched and realistic, on the 24th of November. The Conservatives even congratulated us on it.

Unfortunately, for reasons of partisanship, Stephen Harper later rejected it all with the back of his hand* and provoked a completely manufactured political crisis. The leader of the Conservatives had promised to tackle the economic crisis instead of all this, [but] he lit the fuse.

It was the duty of the Bloc Québécois to oppose an ideological declaration which attacked Québec, workers, women, and democracy.

Stephen Harper has shown a serious and troubling lack of judgment in allowing his party's ideology to take precedence over the economy and the situation of the people. The Tory leader has confirmed Québeckers' worst fears regarding his party and his government. Over these last few days, instead of taking a responsible attitude, the Tory leader has once again called Québeckers' democratic choices into question. Stephen Harper's incendiary rhetoric has shown that he is not fit to govern. The prime minister has shown his true face and has definitively lost the confidence of the House of Commons.

In light of the Conservative government's coming to a standstill, a majority of the people's chosen representatives decided to engage in discussions which have borne fruit. We have secured an agreement which calls for very important gains for Québec:
  • A long-awaited bailout plan for manufacturing and forestry sectors, for saving and creating thousands of jobs.
  • We secured the restoration of financing for Quebec's regional economic development agencies.
  • The cutbacks in cultural programs will be cancelled.
  • The agreement calls for aid to retirees affected by the crisis. We reached an understanding on the creation of a support program for elderly workers and so that "la caisse d'assurance-emploi" ** will be put at the service of workers only.
  • For the environment and the economy, the agreement calls for a mechanism inspired by Kyoto, which corresponds to Québec's demands.
  • Likewise we agreed on a program to help families and a corresponding right to retirement with full compensation for Québec.
The Bloc Québécois will not be participating in this government. We have undertaken to support this coalition for an 18-month period, on the basis of an agreement which corresponds to the interests of Québec. We will remain free to serve Québec.

What we want is that, over the next 18 months, the next government should work to stimulate the economy and support those affected by the crisis. Mr. Harper has refused to fulfil his responsibilities and now he would prefer to send us back to the polls and lose another three months.

This has gone on long enough.

I ask Mr. Harper to let the House of Commons vote, so that we can have done with his government, and so that at long last we can work to fight with all our power against the economic crisis breaking upon us.

* Idiom.
** "La caisse d'assurance-emploi" refers to the Québec program which serves a function equivalent to employment insurance.

Original version here


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