Gilles Duceppe set to make comeback as Bloc Quebecois leader
Gilles Duceppe is set to once again become leader of the Bloc Quebecois in a bid to blow wind into the sails of the flailing party.
Duceppe, who led the party for almost 15 years until 2011, is set to take over from current leader Mario Beaulieu, confirmed political analyst Jean Lapierre.
Duceppe will resume the role he gave up three years ago while Beaulieu will become the party's president.
"I think Mario Beaulieu was confronted with polls showing that he is going nowhere," said Lapierre.
"They also had included in those polls the names of Gilles Duceppe, Bernard Landry, Daniel Paillé, and so he had to come to the conclusion that he was not taking the Bloc very far."
As a result, Beaulieu is going to step aside and allow Duceppe to become the party's leader -- allowing Duceppe to participate in national debates for the upcoming federal election.
"The deal is that Mario Beaulieu is going to become president of the Bloc, which is a paying job, and Gilles Duceppe will come back as leader of the Bloc and run in the next campaign."
An official announcement explaining how this will be done will take place in a news conference Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. The regulations for the party normally require a leadership race.
Beaulieu was elected leader of a much-diminished Bloc last year and has been unable to generate much public interest in the party.
His leadership challenge was not supported by any of the party's sitting MPs, and several quit after Beaulieu was chosen as leader.
Last year Pierre Karl Peladeau, who is now leader of the Parti Quebecois, called the Bloc "irrelevant" but he later recanted his statement.
Because the parties' goals are so closely linked, members of the PQ are worried that another disastrous performance by the Bloc would reflect poorly on the PQ.
"When the election comes on October 19, the results are going to be influencing [Pierre Karl Peladeau]," said Lapierre.
The weekly Nanos Party Power Index has routinely had the Bloc at the bottom of its rankings.
At the moment the Bloc has just two MPs out of 75 in the House of Commons, having lost more than half its caucus since the 2011 election when the Bloc was virtually wiped off the electoral map and Duceppe lost his own seat.
Membership in the Bloc Quebecois has declined steeply and is currently 19,000 -- with fewer than 60 per cent voting in last year's leadership race.
Following his electoral defeat, Duceppe tested the waters about becoming leader of the Parti Quebecois but declined after he was accused of breaking ethics rules by paying a Bloc manager out of House of Commons funds.
J’ai demandé à M. Duceppe de participer à la campagne électorale et il a accepté. Nous discutons du rôle qu’il jouera.— Mario Beaulieu (@Mario_Beaulieu) June 8, 2015