Hardline separatist Mario Beaulieu was chosen as the new leader of the Bloc Québécois on Saturday, but it didn't take him long to ruffle feathers within the party's membership.
“The Bloc Québécois will be the motor behind the relaunching of the separatist movement. We’ve been waiting for this moment for 20 years, the time for waiting is over,” Beaulieu said in his acceptance speech.
In his speech, he also took the opportunity to assert that party leaders that came before him suffered from defeatism. Former Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe was in the audience and took offence.
Beaulieu's speech 'irresponsible,' Duceppe says
Duceppe said he was disappointed by Beaulieu's comments.
During his acceptance speech, cries of Front de libération du Québec (FLQ)'s slogan, "Nous vaincrons," or "We will conquer," emanated from the crowd. Duceppe said Beaulieu also uttered the slogan as the crowd chanted.
The slogan was most famously used during the October Crisis of 1970.
Duceppe called using that language "irresponsible and unconscionable" and said he could not accept it.
The former Bloc leader also took issue with Beaulieu's assertion that the Bloc had suffered from defeatism over the past 20 years.
“Talking about 20 years of defeatism is lying, it’s pure demagogy, period,” Duceppe said.
He responded to a question about whether it was insulting by saying, "To me, to Lucien Bouchard, to Michel Gauthier, to Daniel Paillé. [Beaulieu said] all the predecessors lost their time, didn’t do their job.”
Bellevance had MP support
With 53 per cent of the vote, Beaulieu — the former head of the nationalist Société St-Jean-Baptiste — beat out only one other candidate, Bloc MP André Bellavance, for the job.
Beaulieu has a difficult task ahead as he tries to rebuild the federal party devoted to Quebec nationalism.
The Bloc was reduced to just four seats in the Commons in the 2011 election from the 49 it held after the 2008 vote. Longtime leader Duceppe resigned after that election.
Bellavance had the support of the other three Bloc MPs but Beaulieu campaigned on a promise to make sovereignty a priority above all else.
The previous Bloc leader, Daniel Paillé, resigned last December for health reasons.
Some 19,000 party members were eligible to vote and 58.5 per cent of them cast a ballot in the leadership race.