MONTREAL — More than 20 former Bloc Quebecois MPs called on party leader Martine Ouellet to step down Friday, in a letter published in a Montreal newspaper accusing her of being intransigent and weakening Quebec’s voice in Ottawa.
Meanwhile, the Bloc’s national office will hold a meeting Saturday to discuss the fate of seven of the party’s 10 MPs who quit the caucus earlier in the week, citing Ouellet’s poor leadership style.
The letter, co-signed by ex-Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe, says Quebec’s status is feeble within the Canadian federation, with a pro-Canada premier in Quebec City and an “intransigent” and divisive Bloc leader in Ottawa.
“We understand how seven MPs left the party,” reads the letter published in Le Devoir. “Martine Ouellet weakens Quebec’s voice in Ottawa at a time when it needs a strong voice.
“She divides sovereignists at the moment when they need to be united. She has to go.”
Ouellet, who doesn’t have a seat in the House of Commons but sits as an Independent in Quebec’s provincial legislature, has signalled she will not go.
A source in the Bloc told The Canadian Press Ouellet’s hand remains extended to the seven departing members and she is ready to welcome them back to the party.
The source said it’s unclear if the 12 members of the party’s national bureau will take a final decision on whether to expel the seven dissident MPs and revoke their memberships on Saturday or whether talks will continue after that time.
A spokesperson for the Bloc said Ouellet wouldn’t react publicly to Friday’s letter before Saturday’s meeting.
The defections of 70 per cent of the party’s caucus reflect an internal struggle in the party that has been going on for some time.
Party insiders say the tension is between those who aggressively want to pursue Quebec independence by bringing it up at every occasion, versus those who want to focus on files concerning Quebec’s interests in Ottawa.