National Post, Canada
May 16 2005


Montreal: Bloc attracts minority candidates
Normally Liberals

Philip Authier
CanWest News Service

MONTREAL - They have names like Apraham Niziblian, Maria Mourani and
Liza Gomez, and in the old days would be solid Liberals. This time,
however, they plan to throw their lot in with the Bloc Quebecois
and run for seats as separatist MPs should an election be called
this spring.

"Normally, you would be right," Ms. Gomez said attending a Bloc youth
wing rally in Montreal yesterday. "But I am a Quebecer, just as I
am a Latin American woman. I came here when I was five. I learned to
speak English. I learned to speak French. I took some Quebec culture
and I have my own. So I am really a child of Bill 101 and am proud
to be here today."

Ms. Gomez, 27, who plans to run for the Bloc nomination in the
Honore Mercier riding, will find herself up against Liberal MP Pablo
Rodriguez, who narrowly won the riding in the June, 2004, election.
Normally, that would be a hopeless cause for a Bloc candidate.

But pumped by recent polls and damning testimony for the Liberals
at the Gomery sponsorship inquiry, the Bloc has decided to break
one of the great stigmas of the sovereignist movement -- that it
is essentially white and francophone -- and plans to run a dozen
candidates from minority communities.

The Bloc holds 54 of the province's 75 seats.

The great inspiration came in the last election when African-born
candidate Maka Kotto broke through in the St. Lambert riding, and
Taiwanese-Quebecoise Meili Faille won in Vaudreuil-Soulanges. The
Bloc has since been flooded with minority candidates, and is targeting
them at ridings where Liberal support is sagging.

The Bloc will run Ms. Mourani against Liberal MP Eleni Bakopanos in
the Ahuntsic riding, while Vivian Barbot will run against Foreign
Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew in Papineau.

Mr. Nizibilian, 31, who will seek the Bloc nomination in the Bourassa
riding so he can run against Liberal Denis Coderre, agreed the stars
are aligned for a Bloc win, but says the idea runs deeper than that.

"We didn't wait for the Gomery commission to have an election," said
Mr. Nizibilian, whose parents are Armenian. "We have been working
across Quebec for years to explain who we are. That is why you see here
today Haitian youth and Italian youth. The message is getting through."

But for the Bloc, the symbolism is huge. BQ leader Gilles Duceppe
was on hand for yesterday's rally. The theme was "Quebecois sans
exception," (Quebecers without exception).

"We have a good idea of what a modern Quebec is all about, of what
the future is about," Mr. Duceppe said taking the stage after the
show. "This Quebec is made up of men and women of all ages, of all
regions, all origins, all colours who have French as a common public
language and who have in common the desire to live together. That is
the Quebec of today. That is the Quebec we are building."