New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton is hoping comments made by a disgruntled Quebec sovereigntist will help boost his party's fortunes in Quebec.

Jacques Brassard, a former Party Quebecois cabinet minister, published a column in two prominent French-language newspapers claiming the Bloc Quebecois has lost its way and is indistinguishable from the NDP.

Brassard said Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe has turned his party into a "clone" of the left-of-centre NDP. He added the Bloc appears to have put independence issues on the back burner and questioned the party's relevancy.

Layton took full advantage of Brassard's comments during a campaign stop on Wednesday in Oshawa, Ont.

He said many Quebecers will say, "'Gee whiz, he's right.'"

"Maybe the NDP is becoming more and more the party that is favoured by many Quebecers."

He said the NDP's policies will resonate with traditionally left-leaning Quebecers.

"I think the values of the NDP really cover very, very closely the values of the great majority of Quebecers," he said.

Layton said he expects that Thomas Mulcair, who won an unexpected byelection last fall to become the NDP's sole Quebec MP, "will have company" after voters go to the polls.

Meanwhile, Duceppe defended himself against Brassard's comments, noting the former PQ minister always had conservative views. Duceppe said the Bloc's aim is to reflect Quebecers' consensus opinion in Ottawa.

Jacques Leonard, the Bloc's vice-president, said he was "stunned" by the inaccuracies in Brassard's opinions and their virulence.

The Bloc's principles are "not a case of being right or left, but of simple common sense," Leonard wrote in a letter to Brassard released by the Bloc on Wednesday.