* Gives psychological boost to separatist Bloc Quebecois
* Balance of power in Canadian House of Commons not affected
* MP says always wanted Quebec to become independent country
OTTAWA, Feb 28 An opposition legislator in the
Canadian House of Commons defected to the separatist Bloc
Quebecois on Wednesday, arguing that it was unacceptable that
Canada put conditions on how and when the French-speaking
province of Quebec could separate.
The move by New Democratic Party (NDP) Member of Parliament
Claude Patry will not have an immediate effect on the balance of
power, but it is an important jolt for the separatist cause
after its poor showing in the 2011 federal election.
"I voted for the sovereignty of Quebec in the last two
referendums and I hoped Quebec would become a country, and I
still hope so," Patry said in a statement.
"Like many Quebec citizens in 2011, I thought the NDP would
act differently than the Liberals and Conservatives and that it
would truly recognize the aspirations of the Quebec nation."
The NDP positions taken in recent debates on issues
including the Clarity Act - which says Quebec can only separate
with a clear majority on a clear question - convinced him
otherwise, he said.
The previous Liberal government brought in the Clarity Act
after the separatists came within a whisker of getting majority
support for sovereignty in a 1995 referendum.
Ironically, last month the NDP proposed replacing that law
with one which would make it easier for Quebec to leave by
changing the requirement of a clear majority to a simple
majority - that is, one vote over 50 percent. This riled the
governing Conservatives and the Liberals.
Still, the NDP bill angered the separatists by saying that
any referendum question had to be clear. Those favoring
independence say Quebec alone should decide referendum
questions, without any interference from Ottawa.
Patry's move to the Bloc Quebecois now brings them to five
of the 308 House seats and reduces the NDP to 100, most of them
from Quebec. The Conservatives have a comfortable majority of
165 and the next federal election is not till 2015.
Despite the thrashing the Bloc took at the hands of the NDP
in Quebec in the 2011 federal election, its provincial cousin,
the Parti Quebecois, formed a minority government in Quebec last