Turmel says NDP aware of political history
Acting NDP Leader Nycole Turmel has held membership in two separate Quebec-based sovereigntist groups, though she maintains that she is "a federalist."
The Bloc Quebecois confirmed on Tuesday that Turmel was a member of the separatist party from December 2006 to January 2011.
But Turmel says she only joined the Bloc Quebecois to support a friend. NDP staff said that the friend in question is former Bloc MP Carole Lavallee.
"I signed her card, and I was a member for five years, I resigned in January," Turmel told CTV News Tuesday.
She also insisted that the NDP was aware of her political history when she filled out the requisite candidate forms. She said that the form is a "long questionnaire" where applicants have to list all the details "about everything you've done."
NDP spokesman Karl Belanger said Turmel was never an "active member" of the Bloc.
"Ms. Turmel has been an NDP member for over 20 years and served as associate-president of the party in the 90s."
Belanger also said that Turmel is "a federalist and never shared the views of the Bloc on the future of Canada."
Pointing to the fact that Turmel co-chaired an NDP forum on Canada's future, Belanger said "she always believed that the NDP was the best political vehicle to build a better Canada."
In a separate email, Belanger also confirmed that Turmel "has" been a member of Quebec solidaire, clarifying that the acting NDP leader's membership "has not lapsed yet but will not be renewed."
Quebec solidaire is a tiny sovereigntist party that has only one elected member in the Quebec national assembly.
Earlier in the day, Bloc Quebecois press secretary Karine Sauve confirmed that Turmel had been a BQ member until January.
Sauve said Turmel gave $235 in donations to the Bloc Quebecois during her time as a party member.
Turmel had a personal friendship with Lavallee, Sauve said.
The news of Turmel's prior ties to the Bloc Quebecois drew comment from Dimitri Soudas, the communications director for Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
"This is yet another worrying example of the NDP not up to the job of governing Cda when its interim leader was a full member of the sovereignist bloc quebecois (sic) just a few short months ago," Soudas wrote in a two-part message on Twitter on Tuesday.
In January, Turmel resigned her Bloc Quebecois membership and later filed papers to run as a New Democrat candidate.
Turmel was elected as the New Democrat MP for the Quebec riding of Hull-Aylmer in May.
She defeated Marcel Proulx, a Liberal who had held the riding since a November 1999 byelection.
Turmel was one of dozens of New Democrats elected in Quebec during the May election, as the Bloc Quebecois party was reduced to just four seats.
The NDP breakthrough in Quebec helped push the party to new heights, as it formed the official Opposition for the first time, displacing the Liberals as the No. 2 party in the House of Commons.
Before the legislature closed for the summer, Turmel was named as the NDP caucus chair.
Turmel recently became the acting leader of the NDP after Layton announced last week that he was taking a leave of absence to focus on a new battle with cancer.
Layton said Turmel was his preferred pick for the job, an unexpected choice that was subsequently supported by the NDP caucus and party executives.