The Bloc Québécois will likely wait until 2017 before choosing a replacement for Gilles Duceppe, even though potential leadership candidates are anxious for the process to get underway.

A leadership race was not on the agenda at a party retreat in Trois-Rivières on Saturday, but Bloc members couldn't help discussing the issue anyway.

"That's what everyone is talking about in the hallways," said Bloc MP Xavier Barsalou-Duval, a possible leadership candidate.

"It's natural that when a political party doesn't have a leader, people talk about it."

Interim BQ leader Rhéal Fortin said the percolating interest in the leadership race is a good sign for the party.

"That's what we want — for the Bloc Quebecois to continue to interest people, to attract candidates," Fortin told The Canadian Press.

"What we're looking at is a proposal from the national office for [a leader to be chosen in] 2017."

Sooner rather than later?

But some within the party say it would be better to choose a leader sooner rather than later.  

Among those is Denis Trudel, a star candidate who ran unsuccessfully for the Bloc in the last election.

"Everyone is obviously interested in knowing when the leadership race will take place and who the next leader will be," said Trudel, who is also considering a leadership run.

Duceppe made a brief appearance at Saturday's meeting. He stepped down as leader following the October election after he lost his riding and led the party to its lowest share ever of the popular vote.

with files La Presse Canadienne, Radio-Canada