Bloc Québécois

Bloc Québécois

party_name = Bloc Québécois
party_wikicolourid = BQ
status = active
class = fed
leader = Gilles Duceppe
president = Gilles Duceppe
foundation = June 15, 1991
dissolution =
ideology = Quebec nationalism, "sovereigntism", social democracy
headquarters = 3750 boul. Crémazie E
Suite 307
Montreal, Quebec
H2A 1B6
int_alignment = None
colours = Dark Blue, Light Blue, Red
seats_house = 51 House
website = []
The Bloc Québécois (BQ) is a federal political party in Canada that defines itself as devoted to both the protection of Quebec's interests on a federal level as well as the promotion of its sovereignty. [ [ Political statement] ] As such, it campaigns only within the province during elections.

The Bloc Québécois has close relation with the Parti Québécois (PQ, whose members are known as "Péquistes"), the provincial party that advocates the independence of Quebec from Canadian Confederation, but the two are not linked organizationally. Members and supporters of the Bloc Québécois are known as "Bloquistes" IPA| [blɑˈkist(s)] . The party itself is sometimes known as the "BQ". English-speaking Canadians commonly refer to the BQ as "the Bloc".

The Bloc Québécois is supported by a wide range of voters in Quebec, from large sections of organized labour to more conservative rural voters.

The Bloc is a rare example of a major Western party that advocates the separation of a region critical to national politics. The Bloc is currently the third largest party in the Canadian House of Commons.



The Bloc Québécois was started in 1990 as an informal coalition of Progressive Conservative and Liberal Members of Parliament from Quebec, who left their original parties around the time of the defeat of the Meech Lake Accord. The party was initially intended to be temporary and was given the goal of the promotion of sovereignty at the federal level. The party aimed to disband following a successful referendum on sovereignty. The term "temporary ad hoc rainbow coalition" is now used by the Liberal Party of Canada to refer to the group of MPs who founded the Bloc Québécois, primarily in reference to Jean Lapierre, who was once part of that group but had since renounced separatism and rejoined the Liberals under the leadership of Paul Martin.

The initial coalition that led to the Bloc was led by Lucien Bouchard, who had been federal Minister of the Environment until he was fired by then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney (as pointed out in "The Secret Mulroney Tapes"). He was joined by several of his fellow Tories, such as Nic Leblanc, Louis Plamondon, Benoît Tremblay, Gilbert Chartrand, and François Gérin, along with several Liberals, notably Gilles Rocheleau and Jean Lapierre. The first Bloquiste candidate to be elected was Gilles Duceppe, then a union organizer, in a by-election for the Montreal riding of Laurier-Sainte-Marie on August 13, 1990 . He ran as an independent, since the Bloc had not been registered as a federal party yet.

First election

In the 1993 federal election, the Bloc won 54 seats in Quebec. Because the opposition vote in the rest of Canada was split between the Reform Party, the Progressive Conservative Party, and the New Democratic Party, the Bloc narrowly won the second largest number of seats in the House of Commons, and therefore became the official opposition. The election of such a relatively large number of Bloquistes was the first of The Three Periods, a plan intended to lay out the way to sovereignty created by PQ leader Jacques Parizeau. Parizeau became Premier of Quebec in the Quebec election of 1994 (the second of the "Three Periods").

1995 Quebec referendum

In 1995, the PQ government called the second referendum on independence in Quebec history. The Bloc entered the campaign for the "Oui" (Yes) side (in favour of sovereignty). The "Oui" side's campaign had a difficult beginning, so the leadership of the campaign was shifted from Jacques Parizeau to Bloc leader Lucien Bouchard. Bouchard was seen as more charismatic and more moderate, and therefore more likely to attract voters.

A "tripartite agreement" mapping out the plan for accession to independence was written and signed by the leaders of the Parti Québécois, the Bloc Québécois and the Action démocratique du Québec on June 12 1995. It revived René Lévesque's notion that the referendum should be followed by the negotiating of an association agreement between an independent Quebec and the rest of Canada. This provision was inspired by Bouchard. Parizeau had previously wanted a vote simply on independence. The difference became moot when 50.6% of voters taking part in the referendum rejected the sovereignty plan. An overwhelming "Non" vote in Montreal tipped the balance.

The day after the referendum, Parizeau stepped down as PQ leader and premier of Quebec. Bouchard left federal politics and succeeded Parizeau in both posts on January 26 1996.

New leaders for the Bloc

Following Bouchard's departure from Ottawa, Michel Gauthier became leader of the Bloc. In the wake of the referendum defeat, Gauthier proved unable to hold the fractious caucus together and resigned as leader just one year later. Gilles Duceppe, who had served as interim leader after Bouchard stepped down, became leader of the Bloc in 1997 and remains leader today, making him the longest-tenured current party leader among the four major Canadian federal parties (as of 2008).

Gilles Duceppe announced on May 11 2007 that he would run in the Parti Québécois leadership race to replace André Boisclair, who resigned on May 8 2007 after the poor performance in the March election in Quebec and internal dissent forced him to step down. However, in a surprise move, Duceppe announced the next day that he was withdrawing from the race, and that he would support Pauline Marois who had also announced her intention to run. All this action has led to some speculation regarding the leadership of the partyFact|date=October 2008.

Declining fortunes

In the 1997 federal election, the Bloc Québécois dropped to 44 seats, losing official opposition status to the Reform Party. The 1997–2000 term was marked by the Bloc's fight against the passage of the Clarity Act, the attempt by Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien (himself a Quebecer who represented a strongly nationalist riding) and Stéphane Dion, a Quebec minister in Chrétien's cabinet, to codify the Supreme Court of Canada's 1998 decision that Quebec could not secede unilaterally.

In the 2000 election, the Bloc dropped further to 38 seats, despite polling a larger percentage of the vote than at the previous election. One factor was the forced merger of several major Quebec cities, such as Montreal, Quebec City and Hull/Gatineau. The merger was very unpopular in those areas, resulting in Liberal wins in several of the merged areas. This was still more than the number of seats the Liberals had won in Quebec. However, the Liberals went on to win several subsequent by-elections during the life of the resulting Parliament, until the Liberals had held the majority of Quebec's seats in the Commons for the first time since 1984. From then to the subsequent election, the Bloc continued to denounce the federal government's interventions in what the Bloc saw as exclusively provincial jurisdictions. The Bloc credits its actions for the uncovering of what has since become the sponsorship scandal. Among other things, the Bloc supported the Kyoto Accord, gay marriage and , and opposed Canadian participation in the War in Iraq in 2003.


The Bloc continued to slide in most of the 2003 opinion polls following the 2003 Quebec election which was won by the federalist Quebec Liberal Party led by Jean Charest. However, things changed during the winter of 2003, partly because of the unpopularity of Charest's government and the rise in support for independence in Quebec (49 per cent in March).Fact|date=June 2007 However, in February 2004, the Auditor General of Canada uncovered the sponsorship scandal.

For the 2004 election the Bloc adopted the slogan "Un parti propre au Québec", a play on words that can be translated either as "A party belonging to Quebec" (or simply, "a party proper to Quebec") or as "A clean party in Quebec". The Bloc won 54 seats in the House of Commons, tying its previous record from the 1993 campaign. For the 2006 election, the Bloc used the slogan "Heureusement, ici, c'est le Bloc!" ("Thankfully, here, it's the Bloc!"). [ [ BQ_DepEthno - anglais ] ] The Bloc were expected to easily win more than 60 seats at the start of the campaign, and they did in fact take six seats from the Liberals. However, the unexpected resurgence of the Conservatives in parts of Quebec, particularly in and around Quebec City, led to the Bloc losing eight seats to the Tories. Coupled with an additional loss to an independent candidate, the Bloc recorded a net loss of three seats compared to the last campaign.

Speculation has been ongoing about the possibility of the Bloc forming alliances with other opposition parties or with an eventual minority government. Duceppe, whose leadership was confirmed after the election, has stated that the Bloc will continue to co-operate with other opposition parties or with the government when interests are found to be in common, but insists that the Bloc will never participate in a federal government.

On May 2 2006, a poll revealed that for the first time, the Conservatives were ahead of the Bloc in the Quebec's vote intention (34% against 31%). Duceppe announced the Bloc would support Stephen Harper's budget the very same day. But in October polls showed that the Bloc was up to mid forties whereas the Conservatives fell into the teens behind Liberals in their poll numbers in Quebec.

Present situation

On September 18, 2007 the Bloc Québécois lost the strategic stronghold of Roberval-Lac-St-Jean to the Conservative Party of Canada in a by-election, while at the same time the New Democratic Party managed to win a Liberal riding, leading to speculation that the Conservatives might replace the Liberals as the largest federalist alternative to the Bloc.Fact|date=October 2008

Relationship to Parti Québécois

The Parti Québécois has close ties to the Bloc and shares its principal objective of independence for Quebec. The two parties have backed each other during election campaigns, and prominent members of each party often attend and speak at the other's public events. In addition, the majority of each party's membership holds membership in both parties. However, on an organizational level the parties are separate entities – the Bloc is not simply the federal wing of the Parti Québécois, nor the PQ simply the provincial wing of the Bloc.

Party leaders

* Lucien Bouchard (July 25, 1990 - January 16, 1996)
* Gilles Duceppe (January 16, 1996 - February 17, 1996 "interim")
* Michel Gauthier (February 17, 1996 - March 15, 1997)
* Gilles Duceppe (March 15, 1997 - present)

Election results


ee also

*Politics of Quebec
*Politics of Canada
*List of political parties in Canada
*Timeline of Quebec history
*Quebec nationalism
*Quebec separatist events and strategies
*Secessionist movements of Canada
*Mouvement de Libération Nationale du Québec

External links

* [ Bloc Québécois website]
* [ Publications in English on the website]
* [ Report on the actions of the Bloc]
* [ 2004 election platform]
* [ Summary of the 2004 election platform] and fr []
* [ Text of the 1995 tripartite agreement] and fr []
* [ SRC dossier on the constitutional saga]

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