Martine Ouellet to step down as Bloc Quebecois leader
After being soundly rejected in a confidence vote Martine Ouellet will resign as leader of the Bloc Quebecois in one week.
Her reign as leader was short and bitter.
Barely 15 months after she was acclaimed as leader Martine Ouellet announced she will resign her post after being soundly defeated in a confidence vote.
Over the weekend a solid two-thirds of party members cast ballots showing that they had no confidence in Ouellet's leadership, following 15 months of acrimony that has seen seven of the ten MPs abandon the Bloc.
With tears running down her face Ouellet went down swinging.
She spoke for 40 minutes about the problems with the Bloc, her accomplishments as leader, and cast blame on federalists, Canadians, Quebecers, and separatists before finally confirming that she will step aside.
"Never give up," she said as she resigned.
Ouellet said that many people within the party had problems with her leadership simply because she is a woman. In recent months, complaints from party members have surfaced about Ouellet's leadership style, with some saying she was uncompromising and unwelcoming of dissenting views.
"When you don't know what to say, you say it's the style. That's so easy to say. I'm not perfect but if I compare myself with other male leaders, they aren't, either," she said. "A lot of them are more imperfect but they didn't receive as many attacks as I received."
She condemned the Bloc's president and former leader, MP Mario Beaulieu, for running a negative campaign against her, and said he was largely responsible for her loss.
Ouellet also said the party is conflicted about the separation of Quebec, saying that discussing sovereignty bothers many people, and moreso when a woman discusses independence. She compared herself to former premier Pauline Marois, saying the two of them were the recipients of more ire than any other sovereignist leaders.
"To assume an independence perspective as a leader, but also as a woman, it disturbed twice," she said. "It's sad that in 2018, it's still the case. You just have to look at all the attacks I received in the last three months. No other leaders of the independence movement received as many attacks as I received."
The vice-president of the Bloc Quebecois, Gilles Paquette, said many men in politics bristle at working under a woman's direction.
"What I've seen is not all male people in politics agree to serve under the leadership of a woman. It's been difficult for her and it's one of the factors," said Paquette.
During her leadership Ouellet, who is a hardline separatist, pushed to have the Bloc focus more on separation, but most of the party's MPs believed it was more important to battle for a strong Quebec instead of an independent Quebec.
Strangely, the same membership that rejected Ouellet voted in favour of her hardline stance on separation over the weekend, with 65 percent saing the Bloc should promote Quebec's independence at every opportunity.
After her farewell speech, Ouellet told CTV that the independence movement is "sick."
"I think the biggest obstacle to a Quebec republic is internal and that's not normal," she said. "The movement is kind of sick. There's people inside that want to break the people who talk about independence and do what has to be done to realize the Quebec republic."
The party has been in disarray since the 2011 federal election when the party was reduced to four seats in the House of Commons.
Long-time leader Gilles Duceppe, having lost his seat, stepped down as leader and since then the party has had half a dozen people in charge -- including Duceppe, who returned to campaign in the 2015 election but failed to win his seat.
Ouellet was acclaimed as leader in 2017, but less than a year later seven MPs left the party, and more than 20 ex-MPs, including Duceppe, signed an open letter condemning Ouellet.
Ouellet does not hold a seat in the House of Commons, but she is still an MNA who was elected under the Parti Quebecois banner.
She said Monday that she does not plan to run again as an MNA, but that Quebecers will see her again somewhere in the political sphere.