André Bellavance quits the Bloc to sit as an Independent
Bellavance's departure leaves party with 2 MPs, but one of them won't run in 2015
André Bellavance, the Quebec MP for the riding Richmond–Arthabaska, is quitting the Bloc Québécois over differences with the party's recently elected leader Mario Beaulieu.
His departure leaves two MPs from the Bloc in the House of Commons but one of them has already said he will not run again in 2015.
Bellavance announced during a press conference in Victoriaville, Que., Monday morning, he will serve the rest of his mandate as an Independent and will not run again in 2015.
He blamed Beaulieu for not being able to quell the crisis brewing inside the party and a "witch-hunt" that has seen "pro-Bellavance" supporters harassed online for not being sovereigntist enough.
"Beaulieu calls himself a unifier, but for me, that is not the case," Bellavance said.
"There are MPs that are leaving, presidents of associations, members of riding associations, Bloc Québécois staff, former MPs who had expressed an intention to return as candidates at the next election and who have decided not to do so following his election."
Bellavance ran for the leadership of the party in June but lost to Beaulieu, who has been criticized in separatist circles for being too radical and divisive.
Beaulieu does not have a seat in Parliament.
1 Bloc MP to run in 2015
Bellavance, who was first elected in 2004, is the third BQ MP this year who will not run again for the sovereigntist party.
Jean-François Fortin, who was elected in 2011, also quit the BQ earlier this month saying the party he joined no longer exists.
Claude Patry, who was elected in 2011 under the NDP banner before crossing the floor to the Bloc, has already said he won't seek re-election in 2015.
That leaves Louis Plamondon, the MP for Bas-Richelieu–Nicolet–Bécancour, as the sole Bloc MP who plans to run again for the separatist party.
"The Bloc was founded in my riding. I have it tatooed on my heart… I will remain a Bloquiste until the end," he told Radio-Canada today.
Plamondon said he knew Bellavance would not run again in the next federal election but he's surprised to see him slam the door on the Bloc.
Plamondon, who was elected in 1984, said the party is not having any trouble recruiting new candidates. He expects their names will be made public in the fall.
Maria Mourani, the MP for the Montreal riding of Ahuntsic, quit the Bloc last year after she was expelled from caucus over her opposition to the Parti Québécois' proposed charter of Quebec values.