Ouellet named first female leader of Bloc Quebecois
The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, March 18, 2017 8:22AM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, March 18, 2017 7:31PM EDT
Martine Ouellet was named the new leader of the Bloc Quebecois on Saturday at a rally in Montreal, marking the first time the party has been led by a woman.
Ouellet faced no opposition in her pursuit of the position as the only other potential candidate, Felix Pinel, withdrew on Monday after failing to garner the support necessary to make his candidacy official.
Bloc caucus president Louis Plamondon said he was pleased to have Ouellet as the first ever female leader of the party. He added that he would have liked to have seen a leadership race, as those campaigns can inspire dynamism within a party but noted that no candidate would have been strong enough to seriously challenge Ouellet.
With the next federal election not expected until 2019, Plamondon said Ouellet has plenty of time to tour Quebec to establish her reputation and to restructure the party. He said the party’s current MPs can expect some changes in their duties.
Ouellet, who represents the Vachon riding in the National Assembly, has previously said she would step away from the Parti Quebecois and sit as an independent until the end of her term in 2018. Plamondon said he sees no problem with this arrangement and that it meets ethics guidelines.
Not everyone has applauded Ouellet's decision to remain in the National Assembly. Premier Philippe Couillard said the arrangement "didn't look very good."
"I think we sort of trivialize that thing," he said. "Public funds, funds from the National Assembly will be used to support a federal political activity."
Couillard said that if a member of his party made the same decision, it would result in days of media coverage.
"If it was something other than the Parti Quebecois, I don't think it would be treated the same way," he said.
The new leader is scheduled to meet with her deputies next week as the federal government is set to announce its budget.