Bloc Quebecois Leader Martine Ouellet and her allies are proposing that members vote in a referendum to determine the party's main role.

She says disagreements over the party's raison d'etre are behind the crisis that is currently rocking the Bloc.

Seven of its 10 MPs stormed out of the party last week to protest Ouellet's leadership style and her focus on Quebec independence.

Ouellet was accompanied at a news conference in Montreal on Thursday by the three remaining Bloc MPs as well as the party's vice-president.

Party officials will meet Saturday to determine the wording of the referendum question.

Another meeting will be held in April to determine whether the referendum proceeds.

The vote is just one part of a plan Ouellete proposed to unify the party. She said she's also open to bringing in a mediator to help bring the different factions back together.

"The door is still open and we want to work with everybody, but now we feel that it's necessary to have a positioning of all the members," she said. 

Andre Lamoureux, a professor of political science at UQAM, said he doesn't believe Ouellet's plan will be enough and that she must step aside if the party hopes to survive.

"Find someone who will be able to unite all the tendancies in the party and Martine Ouellet, for my part, she's not able to do it," he said. 

He noted that the Bloc was not founded solely to push for Quebec independence, something that Ouellet has said is the most important policy for her.

On Wednesday, 30 Bloc riding and regional presidents lent their support to Ouellet in a letter sent to the party’s national office.

The co-signers called for party members to rally towards the common project of achieving sovereignty in Quebec, saying the mandate entrusted to Ouellet when she was elected leader last year “was and remains clearly the affirmation our raison d’etre: the independence of Quebec.”

The presidents called the crisis gripping the party a momentary slipping of momentum.

Other Bloc associations have expressed their support for Ouellet since the resignation of the seven MPs but have refused to go public, said party spokesperson Pierre Tradros in a statement.

There are 68 riding associations for the Bloc in Quebec.

On Tuesday, Le Devoir reported that the associations are divided on the issue of Ouellet’s leadership, with several calling for a vote of confidence.