Nycole Turmel and the sovereignists

This post last updated at 5:30pm.

This post last updated at 5:30pm.

The Globe and Mail discovers that Nycole Turmel was a member of the Bloc Quebecois.

According to information obtained by The Globe and Mail, the 68-year-old became a member of the Bloc Québécois in December, 2006, the year she retired as president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada. She sent back her membership card to the Bloc on Jan. 19 of this year in a signed letter to then-Bloc MP Carole Lavallée. “Enclosed is my Bloc Québécois membership card, which I wish to cancel. I wish to state that my request has nothing to do with the party’s policies, I am doing this for personal reasons,” Ms. Turmel wrote. She then wished “good luck” to Ms. Lavallée, who went on to be defeated by an NDP candidate in the May 2 general election. In addition to her membership in the Bloc, Ms. Turmel made four donations totalling $235 to the party between 2006 and 2011, according to party records. The donations, which ranged from $35 to $100, were not made public because they are under the $200 threshold for disclosure by political parties.

The NDP is playing down the revelation, but it is being reported—and the NDP now confirms—that Ms. Turmel remains a member of Quebec Solidaire. Rob Silver has eight questions for the New Democrats.

12:41pm… The Globe reports that Conservative MPs and supporters were briefed on Ms. Turmel’s ties to separatists in a memo distributed late last week. The Star notes that some of these issues were raised in April during the election campaign.

Proulx brought up that endorsement, as well as her support during the 2007 Quebec election for Bill Clennett, the local candidate for Québec Solidaire, a provincial party with separatist leanings during an all-candidates meeting in April. Proulx questioned her allegiances and Turmel was forced to go on the defensive when reporters pressed her about it as Layton visited her riding during the campaign. “I already said I was not a separatist. I am federalist,” Turmel said at the time. “I believe in social values. I work with everybody, especially those who were onside with the social values. I will repeat again I am a federalist with social values.”

12:49pm… Ms. Turmel has told Radio Canada that Jack Layton was aware of her previous ties to the Bloc Quebecois.

1:04pm… Here, for those of you who understand French, is video of Ms. Turmel with Quebec Solidaire candidate Bill Clennett. You might recognize Mr. Clennett as the man Jean Chretien throttled in 1996.

2:12pm… Ms. Turmel talks to the CBC.

“I was friends with Carole Lavallée who was an MP with the Bloc Québécois, so I took a membership card with her in her riding,” Turmel said in an interview with CBC News … Turmel told CBC News she has never voted for the Bloc Québécois and that if Lavallée had been a Conservative, she would not have taken out a membership. The interim leader said she worked with the Bloc Québécois, as well as the NDP, in her job as leader of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, a position she held until 2006. She said there are Bloc Québécois policies she agrees with, but not the one on national unity, and she made that clear to Lavallée when she joined the party. “I really like the support they gave to the workers, as the NDP did,” she said. “I cannot endorse the sovereignty, I’m working for the Canadians, all together, for families.”

2:47pm… Ms. Turmel saysGilles Duceppe asked her to run for the Bloc.

“He wanted me to run for them and I said ‘No, I cannot run, because some politics I would agree, but really the sovereignty side, I do not want this,” the NDP interim leader said in an interview on Tuesday, adding that she had also been approached by the Liberals. “I had a vision for Canada. I had a vision for families and I was really active in the NDP where I was not with the other parties, so to me it was clear that I wanted to do something for my riding, but I wanted to do something on behalf of Canadian families in general,” said Turmel, the NDP MP for Hull-Aylmer who became interim leader last Thursday.

3:44pm… Also in the Star’s interview, Turmel says she voted “no” in the 1980 and 1995 referendums.

4:40pm… The NDP press office has sent out a note entitled “Glass Houses.” Here it is in full.

Today, members from the Conservative Party and the Bloc Quebecois feigned righteous indignation that NDP interim leader Nycole Turmel supported candidates from both the BQ and Quebec Solidaire. Conservative spokesman Dimitri Soudas called the NDP “not up to the job of governing Canada” and Louis Plamondon, the interim leader of the Bloc Quebecois said “when you back a party, you back its program.” Knowing that Plamondon, himself, was a Conservative Member of Parliament for the better part of a decade, that Conservative Minister Denis Lebel was an active member of the Bloc Quebecois and that Maxime Bernier was a political aide to former Premier Bernard Landry who made all employees declare their loyalty to an independent Quebec, we wonder why politicians who live in glass houses are throwing stones. The NDP campaigned and won Official Opposition status on the policy and principle of working with Canadians of all political parties to make Parliament work for all Canadians—and that’s what we’ll continue to do. 

5:30pm… And here now are the Liberal talking points.

  • Given recent revelations, Ms. Turmel and the NDP have serious questions to answer about her personal views as well as the NDP caucus’ position on Quebec sovereignty and the future of our country.
  • Ms. Turmel did not tell the voters of Hull Aylmer that she had been a member of the Bloc Quebecois for many years and still supported its policies, and even more surprising, she did not tell Canadians more widely when she was named Interim Leader of the NDP by that party’s Federal Council. Recent reports also suggest that she has existing links to Québec Solidaire,  a  provincial political party closely associated with the separatist cause.
  • This is understandably raising questions for many Canadians, including New Democrats, and as a leader of a federal party, Ms. Turmel has a responsibility to be clear with Canadians.
  • We look forward to clarity from Ms. Turmel and the NDP.