The Pollcast: What happens to the Bloc after the big split?

Bloc Leader Martine Ouellet lost seven of her 10 MPs on Wednesday. To break down where the party goes from here, Éric Grenier is joined by Le Devoir's Marie Vastel and Philippe-Vincent Foisy of Radio-Canada.

Host Éric Grenier is joined by Marie Vastel of Le Devoir and Radio-Canada's Philippe-Vincent Foisy

The Bloc's future is in question after seven of 10 MPs left BQ Leader Martine Ouellet's caucus on Wednesday. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

The CBC Pollcast explores the world of electoral politics, political polls and the trends they reveal.

The Bloc Québécois once formed the Official Opposition and held the balance of power in the House of Commons. On Wednesday, the much-diminished Bloc was further reduced when seven of the party's remaining 10 MPs left the Bloc's caucus.

Their departure was driven by disagreements over the leadership of Martine Ouellet. She says she isn't going anywhere. So where does the party go from here?

The Bloc, which won a majority of Quebec's seats in every election between 1993 and 2008 under the leadership of Lucien Bouchard and Gilles Duceppe, collapsed in 2011 when the party's voters swung en masse to the New Democrats and only four Bloc MPs survived the cull.

Though the party's vote share dropped again in 2015, the party benefited from three- and four-way races to win 10 seats.

After Duceppe's return in 2015 and his failure to win a seat, the leaderless party acclaimed Ouellet as its new chief in March 2017. The former Parti Québécois MNA, who currently sits as an independent in Quebec's National Assembly, has pushed the Bloc to put its emphasis on Quebec independence.

Along with claims that Ouellet employs an abrasive leadership style, her focus on sovereignty has divided the party between those who agree with her and those who think the party should stick to its former role — as a sovereigntist party that focuses on defending Quebec's interests in Ottawa.

Seven MPs — including Louis Plamondon, the longest-serving MP in the House, who has been with the party since its earliest days, and Rhéal Fortin, who was interim leader after Duceppe's (second) departure — gave Ouellet an ultimatum asking her to step aside. When she didn't, the seven MPs left caucus; they will now sit as a "Groupe parlementaire québécois."

Ouellet says she intends to stay in her job. But where does that leave the Bloc?

To explain how the Bloc got here and what's next for the party, Pollcast host Éric Grenier is joined by Marie Vastel of Le Devoir and Radio-Canada's Philippe-Vincent Foisy, two reporters who cover the Bloc on Parliament Hill.

Listen to the full discussion above — or subscribe to the CBC Pollcast here and listen to past episodes.​

Follow Éric Grenier, Marie Vastel and Philippe-Vincent Foisy on Twitter.


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