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A Sunday afternoon in downtown Montreal

In an unusual way during an electoral campaign, over 10 000 people came out in the streets today to denounce Harper. The mood was festive, with lots of singers, poets, writers in abundance, including those who produced the widely popular «Culture en peril». Amongst the organizers were the coalition «Échec à la guerre» who brought together hundreds of thousands of people against the war during the war against Iraq. Environmentalists and community activists were also present, while the trade union representation was minimal.

At the end of the demonstration, various personalities came to speak, including Ghislain Picard, chief of the assembly of First nations for Quebec. Picard denounced Harper for his maneuvers to vote against the Declaration of Indigenous rights at the UN. Gilles Duceppe participated in the march but politely refused to speak to media as it was a non-partisan event.

In the meantime, polls indicate a wide margin in favor of the Bloc who apparently has recovered its original losses. At the beginning of the campaign, the nationalists were somber, afraid of a backlash against what the media describe as a «lost cause». Then several things happen. Harper revealed its true color on issues like culture and criminalization of the youth. He has denied the upcoming economic slump that has already taken lots of regions in Quebec to the brink (it does not show in unemployment statistics because people are going to work in Alberta). He has censored his own MPs and bureaucrats demonstrating his contempt for public debate and democracy. So all of this has started to undermine Stephen. Gilles Duceppe has capitalized on every of these mistakes. The irony of the matter is that the Liberals are now the second most popular ahead of the Conservatives (22 to 21%), but way behind the Bloc (33%).

But the game is not over. The conservative campaign in Quebec is run in a military fashion like what the Republicans do in the US under their rightwing genius, Carl Rove. There is no dispersion and it's focused and controlled. In every winnable riding, a local strategy has been designed, using local themes and personalities that can make a difference. For example in the periphery of Montreal where Stephen was hoping to breakthrough, Conservatives are appealing to so called middle classes family presenting their problems as the result of «bureaucracy», «nationalism», «trade unions». Many of the conservative contenders are local rightwing municipal officials that have a base there. At the local level, Stephen is saying that voting for the Bloc is useless and will prevent Quebec to have a voice in the government, using not-so veiled threats against those electors who would vote in the «wrong side».

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