MONTREAL - The Bloc Quebec has lost its Vice-President, as Vivian Barbot, 70, has stepped down.

Barbot served as Bloc VP since 2009 and briefly served as Interim President following the departure of Gilles Duceppe after the 2011 spring election debacle.

Barbot left her post on Thursday, just prior to the controversy started swirling around alleged payments made by the party's director general from public funds.

The former Papineau MP confessed that she was sorry to see the controversy.

"It's sad to see this happen to someone who works as hard as Duceppe, someone who has remarkable integrity and who always took care to spend public funds properly. It bothers me to see him condemned without even anybody taking the time to see what laws apply," she said.

Barbot said that she was aware that the General Manager's pay was being taken from the House of Commons budget, rather than the party.

"That was well known, there was no secret there,' she said.

Barbot was born in Haiti, where her father Clement Barbot played a role in the Duvalier regime. He fell out with the dictator and was imprisoned, released and assassinated in 1963. The rest of the family lived in the Argentinian Embassy in Port au Prince for 21 months prior to moving to Argentina in 1965.

She met her Quebecois husband Real Lymburner in Argentina and the two came to Canada in 1967, settling in Durham South in the Eastern Townships, where she taught CEGEP. She later became president of a teachers' association.  

Barbot became President of the Quebec Federation of Women in 2001, taking over from Francoise David before entering federal politics. 

She served as MP for Papineau after defeating Liberal incumbent Pierre Pettigrew in 2006. She was defeated by Liberal Justin Trudeau in 2008 and again in 2011.

With a file from The Canadian Press