Former Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe says instability in the party risks leaving Quebecers who favour sovereignty without an option at the federal level.

Duceppe was referring to in-fighting sparked by new leader Mario Beaulieu and the resignation last week of Bloc MP Jean-Francois Fortin.

Fortin’s decision sparked heated words from Beaulieu, who accused the MP for Haute-Gaspésie-La Mitis-Matane-Matapédia of disloyalty and “torpedoing” the cause of independence.

Duceppe was also critical of Beaulieu's condemnation of what he called the "wait-and-see" tactics employed by the sovereignty movement's leadership over the last 20 years.

“I think it needs to be corrected because it was not fair,” he told CBC News.

As to Fortin’s departure, Duceppe described it as unfortunate.

“I told Mr. Fortin that I would have preferred if he stayed within the Bloc and have that debate within the Bloc,” he said.

At the time of his resignation, however, Fortin said working for sovereignty from within the Bloc was no longer possible.

"The Bloc Québécois in which I believed, which we believed, no longer exists," he said in a statement.

He said the catalyst for his decision was Beaulieu’s divisive and radical approach to leadership.

Duceppe, however, said the Bloc is an essential voice in Parliament.

“All sovereigntists in Quebec won’t have another choice at the federal level [without the Bloc Quebecois]. We’ll have to vote for a federal party that says things sovereigntists don’t believe in and defends interests that are not the interests that sovereigntists want a party to defend in Ottawa,” he said.

If the Bloc disappears, Duceppe warned that democracy in Canada would be weakened as a result.

“If you don’t have any choice for sovereigntists in Ottawa, then that means a lack of democracy,” he said.