Embattled Bloc Québécois leader Martine Ouellet resigns

After a crushing vote of non-confidence on the weekend, Martine Ouellet announced Monday morning that she'll be stepping down as leader of the Bloc Québécois, ending a dramatic chapter in the party's history.

Ouellet got just 32% of party members' support during separatist party's weekend confidence vote

Bloc Quebecois Leader Martine Ouellet jokes during her speech at the Parliamentary Press Gallery Dinner at the Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec on May 26. Ouellet received 32 per cent of the party members' support during the confidence vote held Friday and Saturday. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

The leader of the Bloc Québécois is stepping down, ending a chaotic chapter in the party's history. 

After a crushing vote of non-confidence on the weekend, Martine Ouellet announced Monday morning that she'll be resigning effective June 11.

The party has been in a shambles since late February when seven of its 10 MPs quit, citing Ouellet's leadership style.

She has been criticized for being uncompromising and for focusing too sharply on Quebec independence instead of on defending the province's interests on the federal scene.

Ouellet, who has been leader since March 2017, received 32 per cent of party members' support during the confidence vote held Friday and Saturday. (She had said previously she believed getting the support of 50 per cent plus one would give her the legitimacy to stay on as head of the party.)

During a 30-minute speech leading up to her resignation announcement, a passionate Ouellet blamed the vote on party president Mario Beaulieu, accusing the former leader of running a negative and aggressive campaign against her.

'I'm not perfect'

She defended her decision to be a vocal promoter of an independent Quebec as leader and said she thinks she received more backlash because she's a woman with sovereigntist views .

"The biggest obstacle of the realization of [a] republic of Quebec is internally. That is not normal," she told reporters after the news conference.

"The movement is kind of sick."

Ouellet also brushed aside criticism of her leadership style.

"I'm not perfect. I will never say I'm perfect. But if I compare myself with other male leaders, they are not [either.] And I would say a lot of them are more imperfect but they didn't receive as much attack as me," she said.

"When you don't know what to say you, you say it's the style."

Bloc Quebecois leader Martine Ouellet lost a vote of confidence on Sunday. 1:23

​The party members also voted 65 per cent in favour of focusing on promoting Quebec independence on a daily basis.

The seven members who quit the party have formed a new federal party which they plan to call Quebec Debout. Its members say they no longer believe it's their job to promote Quebec separatism at the federal level.

The Bloc's impact on the national political scene has diminished since its heyday under Lucien Bouchard. In the 1993 election, the party secured 54 seats and formed the country's Official Opposition.

Bloc support ebbed and flowed after the 1995 independence referendum.

It secured another 54 seats in the 2004 election but lost official party status after the 2011 election, losing the bulk of its seats to the NDP.

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