Don't get me wrong. The Bloc is a full-fledged separatist party. Their goal is to break up the country. As far as I'm concerned, they're traitors.
But they have little power in achieving their objective. They can never form the government. And there's little, if anything, they can do within Parliament to further the cause of separation. Besides, they have a weak leader in Gilles Duceppe. He's no Lucien Bouchard. And he has no idea how to whip up separatist sentiment.
Gilles Duceppe is no Lucien Bouchard. That's no cause for complacency, but for worry.
Duceppe has grown significantly in public stature as leader of the Bloc, from a figure of ridicule in a hairnet to a leader respected even in English Canada for his forthright, no-nonsense style. None of the other separatist leaders can make that claim.
Rene Levesque was a broken man in 1985, having agreed to place secession on the back-burner. Jacques Parizeau's arrogance ended his political career with just one comment. Lucien Bouchard proved to be an ineffective premier, and Bernard Landry has never shaken his negative public perception.
Duceppe, unlike these men, has never been a polarizing figure, and is perhaps the best communicator of the lot. He is not a man to be underestimated, and he could well be the next premier--and first president--of Quebec.