MONTREAL – The youth wing of the Bloc Quebecois has become the latest group to withdraw its support for embattled leader Martine Ouellet, declaring Wednesday she’s not the one to bring the crumbling sovereigntist party together again.
Members of the youth wing’s executive said in a statement they don’t believe Ouellet has the necessary qualities to end the crisis within the party.
The youth wing publicly supported Ouellet when she became leader last year and even after seven MPs quit the party in late February over her leadership style.
But youth delegates have since soured on Ouellet, whose leadership approach has been described by some as controlling and uncompromising.
“It’s not an easy thing to do,” youth wing president Camille Goyette-Gingras said in the statement. “We’ve always been by her side, but we do not think she’s part of the solution anymore.”
After battling with Ouellet over her approach of constantly zeroing in on independence instead of defending Quebec’s interests on the federal scene, the seven MPs recently announced plans to start their own political party.
For her part, Ouellet accused the seven of spreading “fake news” about her in the days before their final decision to leave and has steadfastly refused to resign.
The youth wing said it isn’t pulling support for Ouellet over ideology: they agree with the notion that the separatist cause should be central to the party, but that it should also defend Quebec’s interests.
The youth wing said the two approaches are not opposed, but inseparable.
A two-day vote on Ouellet’s leadership will begin June 1, along with a referendum on whether the Bloc should focus on promoting Quebec independence on a daily basis.
It will be decided on a 50 per cent plus one basis with the result announced June 3.
Goyette-Gingras believes that reuniting sovereigntist forces is possible, but not with Ouellet at the helm.
“We must be united, emphatic in our words and we must seek out consensus that will permit us to find cohesion,” she said. “Unfortunately, we’re not seeing this now.”