OTTAWA — Veteran Bloc Quebecois MP Andre Bellavance announced Monday that he too is quitting the embattled sovereigntist party because he can’t work with its new leader.
Bellavance said he will serve the rest of his mandate as an Independent and won’t seek re-election in 2015.
Bellavance said his decision to leave the party came after a recent meeting with Bloc Leader Mario Beaulieu, the man who beat Bellavance for the party leadership in June.
The Bloc has been in complete disarray since Beaulieu’s arrival over his approach to running the party. Beaulieu has pushed sovereignty as the main electoral theme even as polls suggest the appetite for it is waning.
Beaulieu has also been critical of past Bloc leaders, accusing them of having a defeatist attitude towards sovereignty.
Bellavance has represented Richmond-Arthabaska since 2004 but the 10-year veteran said that he no longer felt at home in the sovereigntist party under Beaulieu.
He said he simply could not work with Beaulieu going forward.
“I no longer felt comfortable with this team,” Bellavance said. “I don’t feel that we are going in the right direction.”
Bellavance also denounced a “purity test for independence” that has taken place within the party over members’ commitment to sovereignty, saying that it had made him feel like an outsider.
“It made me feel like an impostor and an intruder within the Bloc,” Bellavance said.
He noted an “unhealthy atmosphere” within the party and described two very different political outfits: the Bloc Quebecois that existed “before June 14” and the one “after June 14” with Beaulieu at the helm.
With Bellavance gone, the ranks are thin for the embattled Bloc with just two sitting members in the House of Commons — Claude Patry and Louis Plamondon.
Patry, who defected from the NDP, has already announced he won’t run again in 2015.
Bellavance said the recent departure of Jean-Francois Fortin also got him thinking about his future.
Fortin quit the party, criticizing Beaulieu’s leadership as one-dimensional and uncompromising.
For Beaulieu’s part, he downplayed Fortin’s harsh criticism and accused the MP of showing disloyalty to the party and the sovereigntist cause.
He hasn’t yet commented on Bellavance’s departure.