The Bloc Quebecois: Canada’s other blue party

”Thankfully, HERE it’s the Bloc,” reads the Quebec political party’s slogan. ‘HERE,’ could technically not be anywhere else other than Quebec, because the Bloc chooses not to run candidates in ridings outside the province.

”The Bloc is the only party that defends Quebec’s interests,” said Thierry St-Cyr, Bloc candidate in the Montreal riding of Jeanne-Le Ber. ”The deputies always have one rule when voting in the National Assembly, is it good for Quebec?” The 26 year-old candidate outlined some of the issues important to his riding: ”Education, the environment, social affordable housing, family and the elderly.”

The Bloc promises change for education. According to their website, they esteem that Quebec already posseses solid education policy. What is missing are the financial tools held by Ottawa.

The Bloc wants more money for education in forms of transfers for education and social programs to the provinces. They also want complete control on the allocation of research grants. In 1994-95, the federal government devoted 7.8 per cent of its revenues to education. In 2006 it will have contributed 4.2 per cent. The Bloc wants to see this figure increased.

Bloc initiatives on education include fiscal exoneration from the federal government for financial aid awards. They were in favour of bill C-236, which would have reduced the time a student could have relieved themselves of their student loan debts through declaring bankruptcy. The bill was rejected by April 13th, 2005.

The Bloc also wants to provide students with access to unemployment insurance tax credits.

”We would propose to take the GST off the sale of education books,” said St-Cyr. When questioned about Martin’s proposal to reinvest $8 billion in education, the former University of Sherbrooke graduate remained skeptical: ”Martin already promised to reinvest in education in 2004. The Liberal promises are not valid.”

Voter turnout during the last federal election was one of the lowest on record. When asked about voter disillusionment, St-Cyr said that there was a difference with the news-polls and what voters tell him in person.

”The feedback is very positive when I am meeting people face to face. They are encouraged to see a young person taking part in politics. One of the reasons I got into politics was because I noticed that many young people simply don’t vote.”

St-Cyr said that the timing of the January election will hopefully be more favourable for young people to vote. ”Last election was in the end of June and many young people were on holidays.”

The Bloc’s ultimate goal is for Quebec to separate from Canada. ”I do not know of any situations where dependency is a good thing,” said St-Cyr. ”I compare the soverenist movement to the individual. It’s natural for a person to want to depart from home and live their own life, to make their own decisions. It is not because they have anything against their family, it’s because they want to take charge of their life. Quebec needs to be allowed to make it’s own decisions.”

The final decision will be made January 23rd.

For more information on the Bloc Quebecois’ political platform visit their website at www.blocquebecois.org

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