Montreal

Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe calls it quits again

Bloc Québécois chief Gilles Duceppe has announced that he will step aside once more from the leadership of the party he took over again last June. The newly elected MP for Rivière-du-Nord, Rhéal Fortin, takes over as interim leader.

Party leader failed to win back his former seat in Oct. 19 federal election

Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe expressed optimism for the future of the sovereignty movement in a speech announcing his retirement after a four-month return to the helm of his party Thursday.

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  • Rhéal Fortin, MP for Rivière-du-Nord, becomes interim leader

Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe is leaving his post once again after his party won its lowest share ever of the popular vote, and he failed to win a seat in the federal election.

"I'm turning the page on a passionate and exciting political career that began in 1990," Duceppe said at a 1 p.m. ET news conference.

Duceppe said that he felt pride in his accomplishments over the years, which included his fight to defend the Kyoto accord, the battle to expose the Liberal sponsorship scandal and his efforts to encourage the establishment of Quebec's publicly funded daycare program and its anti-gang law.

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      The Bloc received its lowest-ever popular vote in the recent election, but Duceppe said he enjoyed the campaign nonetheless.

      "This last campaign was possibly my greatest," he said. "We were facing adversity with our small team."

      Return to retirement

      Duceppe lost his own race in the Montreal riding of Laurier–Sainte-Marie for the second consecutive time to the NDP's Hélène Laverdière. He was first elected to the seat in a byelection in 1990. 

      "Of course, I would have liked to have been elected in my own riding, but I am leaving with a sense that I accomplished my duty," he said. 

      It is Duceppe's second resignation: he quit politics in 2011 after the party hung onto only four seats in that election.

      The Bloc has struggled since the 2011 election, with two MPs defecting. New leader Mario Beaulieu failed to charm Quebecers.

      That enticed 68-year-old Duceppe to come back from retirement in June, just weeks before the Aug. 2 election call.

      The Bloc ended up with 10 seats in Monday's election — a gain of eight seats from the two it held at dissolution, but fewer than the 12 seats required to take back official party status.

      New leadership

      The Bloc also announced that its new interim leader will be Rhéal Fortin, the newly elected MP for Rivière-Du-Nord. Fortin, a lawyer who has been practising law in St.-Jérôme since 1992, defeated the NDP incumbent, Pierre-Dionne Labelle.

      Montcalm MP Monique Pauzé becomes party whip, while Louis Plamondon, the MP for Bas-Richelieu-Nicolet-Bécancour, becomes caucus leader. 

      Catherine Fournier, the defeated Bloc candidate for Montarville on Montreal's South Shore, will be vice-president. 

      Fournier, 23, said her age signals continued support for the party among young Quebecers.

      "I think the Bloc attracted more young people than the years before," Fournier said. "We have to build on this."

      "What we did in this election, I think it's a positive thing," she said.

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