Bloc Quebecois leader Martine Ouellet loses confidence vote

Bloc Quebecois members resoundingly rejected the leadership of Martine Ouellet in a confidence vote over the weekend, capping off a leadership crisis that has engulfed the party since February.

The party announced on Sunday that 32 per cent of members voted in favour of her leadership, whereas 67 per cent voted against.

Ouellet has said she believed getting the support of 50 per cent plus one would give her the legitimacy to stay on as head of the party.

She is expected to comment on the result on Monday.

The Bloc has been in disarray since late February when seven of its 10 members of Parliament quit over Ouellet's leadership style.

Of the three who remained, only two still backed her heading into the vote.

Ouellet, 49, has been described by some as controlling and uncompromising and many of her detractors accused her of focusing too sharply on Quebec independence instead of defending the province's interests on the federal scene.

In mid-May, the Bloc's youth wing withdrew its support of Ouellet, who is also sitting as an Independent member in the National Assembly after stepping away from the Parti Quebecois caucus.

The Bloc's estimated 14,500 members were invited to vote by telephone or on the internet in a two-day vote that ran Friday and Saturday.

While members rejected Ouellet's leadership, they voted in favour on a question on whether the party should focus on promoting Quebec independence on a daily basis, with 65 per cent choosing that option.

The voter participation rate was about 59 per cent, the party said.

Ouellet is a former Quebec cabinet minister who previously ran twice unsuccessfully for the leadership of the Parti Quebecois.

She has led the Bloc Quebecois since March 2017.