Lately, the Bloc Quebecois has had a free pass. The party has been able to do pretty much whatever it wanted without anyone noticing because, well, no one cares anymore. As of last week, there were only four Bloc MPs in the House of Commons, and the party was polling in the 4-5% range nationally. Canadians weren’t worried about another referendum because they had bigger fish to fry…the Michael Sona verdict was approaching and the country couldn’t wait to see how many times the CPC bus had run him over. Then, out of the light blue, the Bloc was back in the news- even if only for a second.
Jean-Francois Fortin mixed gravy, fries, and curds when he announced that he would no longer sit in the House as a Bloc MP. Most Canadians can probably think of a few reasons to leave the Bloc, but Fortin needed only one. He took issue with new leader Mario Beaulieu’s “one-dimensional, unrigorous and uncompromising approach” to politics. He said that Beaulieu “has put an end to the credibility established by Gilles Duceppe and continued by Daniel Paille.” As a result, he had to leave. He will now sit as an independent MP.
As an Anglophone Canadian, I admit that I cannot speak Bloc. It is an exotic language, and I have never taken the time to familiarize myself with its various grammatical twists and turns.
Still, I believe I understand Mr. Fortin’s criticism of Mario Beaulieu’s approach to politics. Fortin believes that Mr. Beaulieu is a one-dimensional thinker. While previous Bloc leaders campaigned on comprehensive platforms, which they kept mostly secret in favour of promoting the Bloc as a one-issue separatist party, Beaulieu would rather reduce the comprehensive platform to a one-issue platform that only addresses sovereignty. Fortin fears that Beaulieu’s choice will force the Bloc to be the one-issue party that it always effectively was. It’s a nightmare scenario.
For his part, Beaulieu fought back. He said that Mr. Fortin “lacked loyalty and transparency”, and accused him of “torpedo[ing] the cause of independence.” He added that Fortin “made a scene” when he left the party. It was a bit of a childish response, but at least he made his point. We know how he feels.
Fortin also released a statement in which he summed up his feelings quite eloquently: “The Bloc Québécois in which I believed, which we believed, no longer exists.” This is a conclusion that all Canadians can support because it speaks to fact. The Bloc in which Fortin believed no longer exists. Gone are the halcyon days of the covert sovereignty movement- the fight for independence (that’s what they’re calling it now) must take place in the open. Really, though, the party no longer exists because it pretty much no longer exists. Following Fortin’s departure, the Bloc now holds just three seats in the House of Commons. It is having trouble attracting new support, possibly because its members can’t stop fighting with one another. So is there any good news? Yes! Despite the squabbles, the Bloc remains as popular today as it as ever been outside of Quebec. That’s a good thing, right? Oddly enough, some Bloc members might think it is.