Bloc Québécois leader unveils plan to quell party discord
Embattled leader wants to hold referendum among members to put question of party's priority to rest
Embattled Bloc Québécois Leader Martine Ouellet is proposing to hold a referendum among members in order to ease tensions within her party.
Seven of the party's 10 MPs quit the BQ caucus last week, citing Ouellet's leadership style and her insistence on the constant promotion of sovereignty as the reasons for their departure.
On Thursday, Ouellet stood with her allies, including party vice-president Kedina Fleury-Samson, at a news conference in Montreal and revealed three measures aimed at addressing the friction:
- Move up the general meeting to mid-April. It was originally scheduled for mid-May.
- Hold a referendum to find out what role members believe the Bloc should play in Ottawa and in Quebec.
- Remind the MPs who quit the caucus that mediation is still an option.
In a statement, Ouellet said it's crucial that members of the party decide which direction the party should take, moving forward.
The conflict stems in part from the fact that some members believe the Bloc's priority should be defending Quebec's interests in Ottawa, while others, including Ouellet and her allies, believe the Bloc should focus on promoting sovereignty.
BQ delegates will decide whether to hold the referendum at the April meeting.
Ouellet 'in denial,' MPs say
The plan is being seen as an attempt by Ouellet to display more openness amid the imbroglio.
But in a joint statement, the seven MPs who left say Ouellet is still ignoring the issues that led to their departure.
"For more than a week, it has been clear to us that Ms. Ouellet is in denial, has brushed aside all questioning of her leadership and is trying to discredit us by calling into question our beliefs on sovereignty," they wrote.
They continued by affirming their sovereignist beliefs and said the current debate, pitting Quebec's interests against the promotion of independence, is getting "ridiculous."
A letter made public Wednesday evening revealed 30 of the Bloc's 68 riding association presidents have pledged their support for Ouellet's leadership.
Ouellet is still refusing to move up a confidence vote, scheduled for next year.