Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Last Bloc Standing: Veteran MP Louis Plamondon Battles to Retain Seat

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Last Bloc Standing: Veteran MP Louis Plamondon Battles to Retain Seat

Article excerpt

10th campaign could be toughest for Bloc vet


MONTREAL - Bloc Quebecois stalwart Louis Plamondon's didn't think twice about running federally for a 10th time.

But Canada's current longest-serving federal politician, a staunch sovereigntist who has mostly cruised to victory over three-plus decades, acknowledges this could be the fight of his life.

Plamondon, 72, the only Bloc Quebecois survivor from 2011 to stand for re-election, refuses to entertain the notion the party may be toast.

"What I hope for is the most seats possible," Plamondon said in an interview. "I'm an eternal optimist and I'm sure I won't find myself alone in Ottawa."

Since 1984, Plamondon has easily won his Quebec riding -- renamed Becancour-Nicolet-Saurel in 2015 -- twice for the Progressive Conservatives and for the Bloc since 1993.

In 2011, the New Democrats' orange wave swept the party to a majority of seats in Quebec, decimating the Bloc in the process. Even Plamondon, averaging about 60 per cent of the vote over the years, was nearly ousted by the NDP candidate, who lost by 1,341 votes.

Fast forward to 2015 and some suggest the Bloc, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in July, may not win a single seat.

Plamondon recognizes the challenge and is meeting it head-on, knocking on doors five hours a day as he plays up the party platform and past exploits.

This summer, the veteran has tirelessly attended every golf tournament, corn roast and benefit dinner in the riding, which straddles the south shore of the St-Lawrence River, near Trois-Rivieres.

Plamondon is confident he won't be among the last Bloc members of Parliament, even with the party having been plagued by defections and infighting since the last election.

To this day, he maintains the NDP's performance in 2011 was entirely predicated on one thing: the charisma of then-leader Jack Layton. …

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