Bloc rebels announce new party name and abandon the separatist program

The seven members of Parliament who split from the Bloc Québécois have released the name of their new federal party — Quebec Debout — and say they no longer believe it's their job to promote Quebec separatism at the federal level.

Quebec MP Rheal Fortin says the new 'Quebec Debout' will represent the province's interests

Former Bloc Quebecois MP Rheal Fortin speaks to reporters in the foyer of the House of Commons February 28, 2018. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

The seven members of Parliament who split from the Bloc Québécois have released the name of their new federal party — Quebec Debout — and say they no longer believe it's their job to promote Quebec separatism at the federal level.

The new party plans to represent Quebec's interests in Ottawa, leaving behind the separatist ambitions of the Bloc Québécois, Quebec MP Rheal Fortin said on Wednesday.

"We don't believe that our job in Parliament is to promote independence," he said.

"That's not our mission and that's not what we want to do. We want to work for the Quebec interest. We want to stand up for Quebec."

The former Bloc Québécois interim leader said that, while the members of the new party caucus still believe in an independent Quebec, he would leave the question of holding another referendum on the matter to the provincial National Assembly.

Will we split some votes with the Bloc  Québécois ? For sure.- Quebec MP Rheal Fortin

The party will register the new name with the chief electoral officer next week before launching consultations across Quebec to learn how their constituents want to be represented in Ottawa — and how people will choose between them and their former party.

"Every party splits the vote. In that Parliament, there are at least four federal parties. They split the federalist vote," Fortin said.

"Will we split some votes with the Bloc Québécois? For sure. Some electorate will vote for Bloc instead of us. Some will vote for us instead of Bloc, or instead of Liberal, or instead of Conservative or NDP."

The bruised Bloc

Seven of the Bloc's 10 MPs resigned in February, objecting to leader Martine Ouellet's leadership and her political priorities.

The MPs who stepped down accused Ouellet of constantly zeroing in on independence instead of defending Quebec's interests on the federal scene.

In a speech in early May, Ouellete, who was elected leader in March 2017, accused Fortin and the other MPs of spreading "fake news" against her and compromising the party's "internal democracy."

A two-day vote on Ouellet's leadership will begin June 1, along with a referendum on whether the Bloc should prioritize promoting Quebec independence.