Martine Ouellet loses Bloc Québécois confidence vote with 32% support
At the same time party members vote to focus on promoting Quebec independence
Bloc Québécois leader Martine Ouellet received 32 per cent of the party members' support during the confidence vote held Friday and Saturday.
The 15,000 party members were invited to weigh in by telephone or on the internet over the two-day period that ended Saturday at midnight.
Ouellet had said she believed getting the support of 50 per cent plus one would give her the legitimacy to stay on as head of the party.
The Bloc's members also voted 65 per cent in favour of whether the party should focus on promoting Quebec independence on a daily basis.
The party has been in disarray since late February when seven of its 10 MPs quit over Ouellet's leadership style.
The Bloc's youth wing and one of the three remaining MPs also withdrew their support of Ouellet, who has been criticized for being uncompromising and for focusing too sharply on Quebec independence instead of defending the province's interests on the federal scene.
Ouellet did not speak after the vote's results, but will hold a news conference Monday at 10:30 a.m. She is expected to resign as the party's leader.
Former party leader Gilles Duceppe told Radio-Canada before the vote that he hoped members would vote "No."
"It's important for the Bloc Québécois's future," Duceppe said. "It's going nowhere with Madame Ouellet. If she stays, it will be end of the [Bloc.]"
Duceppe said he hopes the MPs who resigned will return.
Gilbert Paquette, a former Parti Québécois government minister who Ouellet made her special counsellor in April, said the two votes contradicted each other.
Paquette said Ouellet is a leader who strongly focused on independence, which members voted in favour of, while a majority also voted against her leadership.
"So, the Bloc will have to decide what its orientation is in the coming weeks," he said.
Paquette said he believes members were swayed by the seven MPs' decision to leave and that it had made the party appear in disarray.
"The Bloc was doing pretty well," Paquette said, pointing to a 30 per cent support rate in Quebec before the MPs left.
"If a vote of confidence would have been taken before these [resignations], I think that anybody would agree that the leader would have had 80-90 per cent."
With files from Canadian Press, Radio-Canada and CBC reporter Simon Nakonechny