The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
New Bloc Quebecois leader Mario Beaulieu to ramp up independence talk
MONTREAL - The new head of the Bloc Quebecois says he plans to recapture the hearts of Quebec voters by putting a greater emphasis on independence.
Mario Beaulieu, an ardent sovereigntist and the former head of the nationalist St. Jean Baptiste Society, won a slim victory on Saturday over his only opponent in the party's leadership race, Bloc MP Andre Bellavance.
Beaulieu said explaining the benefits of breaking away from Canada will be his top priority.
"Our opponents have often announced the death of the independence movement," he told a crowd of supporters at a concert venue in Montreal.
"I have a surprise for them: we are returning with more determination and energy than ever."
Beaulieu has a difficult task ahead.
The Bloc was reduced to just four seats in the Commons in the 2011 election from the 49 it held after the 2008 vote.
There are doubts about Quebec's appetite for sovereignty after the Parti Quebecois also suffered a drubbing. They had their lowest level of support in 44 years in the April 7 provincial election.
In the view of one Beaulieu supporter, however, the PQ and Bloc's popularity waned because they didn't put enough focus on their raison d'etre.
"What unites sovereigntists is sovereignty," Jean-Jacques Rousseau Martel said after hearing Beaulieu's victory speech.
"From now on, we're going to talk about sovereignty first and worry about getting elected afterward."
For his part, Beaulieu said he plans to speak about independence "before, during and after elections."
His first challenge will be to unite the party.
Bellavance had the support of the other three Bloc MPs during the leadership race. But Beaulieu was well known from his time with the St. Jean Baptiste Society, an institution that takes a strong stance on protecting the French language and promoting sovereignty.
In the end, Beaulieu captured 53.5 per cent of the vote. Some 19,000 party members were eligible to vote and 58.5 per cent of them cast a ballot.
The previous Bloc leader, Daniel Paille, resigned last December for health reasons. Paille took over from longtime party head Gilles Duceppe after the 2011 election.
Beaulieu plans to split his time between Ottawa and Quebec leading up to the 2015 election.
He said he will work to unite the sovereigntist movement — though he appears to have already ruffled some feathers.
Duceppe told reporters he "didn't appreciate" a reference in Beaulieu's speech to an "attitude of defeatism" within the Bloc over the past 20 years, something he denied was the case.
Duceppe, who was party leader for much of that period, called the comments "pure demagogy."
The Harper Conservatives also took a jab at the new Bloc chief.
Denis Lebel, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's political lieutenant in Quebec, was quick to dismiss the Bloc's new leader.
"Quebecers said clearly that they are fed up with the old quarrels. The Bloc has had its day," he said in a statement issued Saturday.
Follow @benshingler on Twitter
Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
(1 of 42 articles for today)9:19 PM 0
CALGARY - A man said to be well known to police is in custody after trying to take an air ...
Photo Store Gallery
- Edmonton drug dealers handing out cocaine samples to potential customers
- RCMP in New Brunswick completes investigation in python deaths, now with Crown
- Survivor of plane crash, family of dead passenger still seeking damages from airline
- Can you keep a secret? Edmonton couple reveals $50M lotto win after 7 months
- Protesters denounce Israeli offensive in Gaza, call on Harper to support peace
- Death of a Quebec mayor from insect stings underscores need to be prepared
- Canada's border agency had thousands of outdated lookout flags in system
- List of charities undergoing tax audits related to political activities
- Fruit from California recalled due to possible Listeria contamination
- Canada deports 20 members of Hungarian human trafficking syndicate
- RCMP charge Sen. Mike Duffy with fraud, breach of trust and bribery
- Ontario medical student, girlfriend among passengers of doomed Malaysian flight
- Conservative party president's 7-year-old daughter hit by minivan, killed
- Mayor of Montreal-area community dies after being stung by wasps
- Police investigate suspicious death at Pemberton, B.C. Music Festival
- Canadian teacher detained in Jakarta jail on accusations of child sexual assault
- Duffy accused of charging for personal trainer, makeup artist, funeral travel
- Big Lake Ontario shark hoax shows risks posed by viral marketing, experts say
- New report questions Canadian Ukraine election monitoring missions
- Cdns at odds with Harper gov't priorities: Finance Canada focus-group report
- Family of missing boy, grandparents won't give up on finding them alive
- Moms change diapers, Dads form leaders: Justice minister's emails to staff
- Calgary police confirm violent incident in case of missing boy, grandparents
- $20,000 per person:Activists push for guaranteed minimum income for Canadians
- 'We're lucky to have her in our lives;' baby survives crash that killed mother
- Suspect in case of missing grandparents and child to make court appearance
- Investigators bring in boat in search near Calgary-area acreage in missing family case
- Calgary police say there are other leads in case of missing boy, grandparents
- Police say search near Airdrie part of probe into missing Calgary residents
- Ex-wife of B.C. homicide victim says man conned her; both appeared on Dr. Phil
Ads by Google