Sunday, April 9, 2017

New Bloc Québécois leader Martine Ouellet wants to break up Canada

Newly acclaimed Bloc Quebecois leader Martine Ouellet salutes supporters. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

The mid-1990s were an exciting time to be a pro-sovereignty Quebec politician.
The Parti Québécois had a majority government. An agonizingly close referendum took Quebec to the brink of independence. The Official Opposition in Ottawa was Lucien Bouchard's Bloc Québécois — a federal party committed to the sovereignty of Quebec and the breakup of Canada.

In 1993, Lucien Bouchard was sworn in as leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, after his fledgling Bloc Québécois won 54 seats in Quebec on a promise to fight for sovereignty. (CBC)
Two decades later, it's a different story. The Parti Québécois is back in the opposition benches. And the BQ vote collapsed in the 2011 election, crushed by the NDP's Orange Wave in Quebec. The BQ was reduced to four seats and lost official party status. The Bloc did win 10 seats in the 2015 federal election, but its share of the popular vote in Quebec dipped below 20 percent for the first time.

For a party that was once synonymous with popular, charismatic leaders like Bouchard and Duceppe, the Bloc has seemed adrift for the past six years. It has had six full-time and interim leaders since the 2011 election.
We'll be really good neighbours, but sharing the same fridge is not a great thing for us and the rest of Canada. We'd rather have our own place. - Martine Ouellet 
Forty-seven-year-old Martine Ouellet stepped into the void last month, becoming acclaimed as the new BQ leader … a job that had no other willing and eligible takers.

But while the BQ appears to many to be a spent force in Canadian politics — and even in Quebec politics — Ouellet insists the BQ "is not a dinosaur, it's a phoenix."

Martine Ouellet is a mother of two and a mechanical engineer by training, earning her degree at McGill University. She was first elected to Quebec's National Assembly in 2010 as a member of the Parti Quebecois and would become the PQ's Minister of Natural Resources in 2012. She currently sits as an independent in the National Assembly.

She spoke to guest host David Gutnick from Montreal.

Click 'listen' above to hear David Gutnick's interview with Martine Ouellet. 

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