Bloc Quebecois loses another MP

Bloc Quebecois MP Jean-Francois Fortin. (BERARD DUPERE/Information/QMI Agency)

Bloc Quebecois MP Jean-Francois Fortin. (BERARD DUPERE/Information/QMI Agency)

Brian Daly, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:03 PM ET

MONTREAL — In another blow to the separatist movement, Bloc Quebecois MP Jean-Francois Fortin said he is quitting to sit as an independent because of a divisive new leader.

Fortin, 40, said Mario Beaulieu has moved the Bloc in the wrong direction since taking over in June.

Beaulieu, former head of two Quebec nationalist groups, has alienated some Bloc supporters because of fiery pro-separatist rhetoric at a time when support for sovereignty in Quebec is low.

"The arrival of the new leader, Mario Beaulieu, who advances a one-dimensional ... uncompromising approach has ended the credibility established by Gilles Duceppe and continued by Daniel Paille," Fortin said in a statement, referring to the party's two previous leaders.

"It's not by rejecting those who seem less pure ... that he will convince Quebecers to follow him."

Fortin's resignation leaves the Bloc with just three MPs.

The Bloc has been losing steam since it was reduced to just four seats in 2011 after winning a majority of Quebec seats in six consecutive elections.

The floundering party expelled MP Mario Mourani last September for speaking out against the Parti Quebecois' plans to bar all Quebec public servants from wearing religious symbols.

Political analyst Jonathan Valois says the party appears to be only keeping its hardcore centre.

"If a personality such as Mario Beaulieu was elected to lead the Bloc, it might be because people had in fact already deserted this party," Valois told QMI.

"What's left, when there are fewer and fewer militants, who are left are the more passionate, some might say the more radical (ones)."

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BLOC BOTTOMS OUT: CHARTING THE PARTY'S DEMISE:

May 3, 2011: NDP nearly wipes Bloc off map in federal election, leaving separatists with just four seats, down from 47. Longtime Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe immediately quits after losing his Montreal seat.

Nov. 15, 2012: CROP poll suggests support for sovereignty in Quebec had dropped to 32%, about eight points lower than the baseline level that had been the norm for decades.

April 20, 2013: Bloc members hold convention in Montreal to search for an identity with just 11 employees and no official party status.

Sept. 10, 2013: Provincial separatists table controversial "values charter" that would bar public-sector employees from wearing "conspicuous" religious symbols. Bloc unconditionally supports bill despite objections from Duceppe and ex-premiers Jacques Parizeau and Lucien Bouchard.

Sept. 12, 2013: Bloc expels crucifix-wearing, Lebanese-African MP Maria Mourani for opposing secularism charter. Days later, Mourani announces she's a federalist and says immigrants and minorities don't feel welcome in sovereignty movement.

Dec. 16, 2013: Daniel Paille, the Bloc's unelected leader, quits because of "epileptic problems."

April 7, 2014: Quebec Liberals crush PQ in provincial election, routing them 70 to 30 in the seat count. Premier Pauline Marois resigns immediately.

June 14, 2014: Mario Beaulieu narrowly elected as Bloc leader. Accuses predecessors of "waiting and defeatism." Former leader Duceppe says Beaulieu's statement is "a lie."

Aug. 12, 2014: Bloc MP Jonathan Valois quits amid dispute with Beaulieu.


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