OTTAWA — Seven of the 10 Bloc Quebecois MPs quit Wednesday because of Martine Ouellet's leadership style, leaving the once-powerful party in complete disarray.
The seven, who will sit as Independents, made the announcement after a Bloc caucus meeting in Ottawa.
One of them is Louis Plamondon, who has been in the Commons since 1984, including the last 25 years as a Bloc MP.
He said he is "leaving the leader'' but "is not leaving the Bloc Quebecois.''
"I've witnessed many crises within the Bloc Quebecois and this is no doubt the deepest,'' Plamondon told reporters as he was flanked by the six other dissident MPs.
We were faced with two options: either Madame Ouellet stepped down, or we walked.Luc Theriault
The six others are Luc Theriault, Gabriel Ste-Marie, Rheal Fortin, Michel Boudrias, Simon Marcil and Monique Pauze.
"We were faced with two options: either Madame Ouellet stepped down, or we walked,'' Theriault said.
Ouellet, who has been leader since last March, spoke to reporters later and said she addressed her personality during Wednesday's caucus meeting.
She said she opened the door to what she called "mediation'' but that she was rebuffed.
"Unfortunately, there wasn't really any discussion or questions,'' she said. "They left the room pretty quickly.
"I am really disappointed because we have a responsibility that goes beyond our individual selves. We have a responsibility to the Bloc Quebecois and its 20,000 members and we have a responsibility to Quebec independence.
"The door is open (for the seven to return) and it will always be open. I am staying on as leader. I was elected by the members of the Bloc Quebecois and they're the people who gave me the mandate."
A crushing blow
The departures are a crushing blow to a party that formed the official Opposition under Lucien Bouchard in 1993.
Gilles Duceppe then took over the reins of the party and led it in five consecutive elections in which it won at least half of the seats in Quebec.
Duceppe also guided the party in the 2011 and 2015 elections, leading them to only four and 10 seats respectively.
Ouellet, who does not have a seat in the Commons, is a former Parti Quebecois cabinet minister who is still sitting in the Quebec legislature as an Independent.
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