Bloc Quebecois Leadership Race: Party To Announce New Leader Sunday
MONTREAL - The Bloc Quebecois are to choose a new leader on Sunday as the party tries to pick up the pieces after its disastrous showing in the May election.
Two current MPs, Maria Mourani and Jean-Francois Fortin, along with Daniel Paille, who lost his seat in the last election, are running for the top job.
The candidates readily admit they have their work cut out for them.
"We're a party that's rebuilding," Mourani said. "And that rebuilding doesn't take a month or two. The new leader will have a colossal amount of work to do."
Leadership races are usually an opportunity for a party to get some time in the spotlight, but the Bloc's race has rarely made headlines and largely failed to grab the public's attention.
The most recent debate between the three candidates, streamed online, attracted only a few hundred viewers.
The separatist party had been dominant under longtime leader Gilles Duceppe until its sudden, near-total wipeout in the May 2 election.
Party membership has slumped in the period since.
More than a quarter of the party's 53,000 rank and file didn't renew their membership cards and won't be able to vote for the next leader.
The party is still reeling after plummeting from 47 seats to four in May's election, largely due to the surging New Democrats.
A recent analysis by Influence Communication found that the four remaining Bloc MPs in Ottawa garnered the same media attention as Raphael Diaz, a rookie defenceman for the Montreal Canadiens.
Recent opinion polls, however, suggest support for the Bloc has risen slightly in the past month.
Some pundits believe the NDP has so far failed to replace the Bloc in defending Quebec's interests in Ottawa.
The Conservative government made several moves that were unpopular in Quebec. They include new crime legislation with stiffer punishment for young offenders and the appointment of a unilingual anglophone as Auditor-General and a non-French speaking judge to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Results of the Bloc's mail-in leadership vote will be revealed Sunday afternoon.