The Bloc Québécois through the years

The Globe and Mail

(Paul Chiasson)

1990-1991- Formation of the Bloc Québécois

In July, 1990, a group of seven Independent Quebec MPs led by Lucien Bouchard present a manifesto to protect Quebec's interests in Ottawa. The next month, labour negotiator Gilles Duceppe wins a landslide by-election victory in the Montreal riding of Laurier-Ste-Marie under the Bloc Québécois banner. By February of 1991, Mr. Bouchard announces the group's intention to form an official political party, and in June, about 600 delegates gather for the Bloc's inaugural convention.

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1995 - The question

Following up on an election promise by Jacques Parizeau, then-premier and Parti Québécois leader, the province of Quebec holds a referendum posing the following question to voters:

"Do you agree that Québec should become sovereign after having made a formal offer to Canada for a new economic and political partnership within the scope of the bill respecting the future of Québec and of the agreement signed on June 12, 1995?"

1995 - Quebec referendum

On October 30, federalists win a razor-thin victory over the "Yes" campaign in a referendum asking Quebeckers whether the province should become its own independent state. Despite then-Bloc leader Lucien Bouchard's attempts to ignite secessionist passions among francophones, the "No" side prevails 50.5 per cent to 49.5 per cent. Separatist leaders pledge that they will be back for a rematch soon.

1996 - Bouchard's replacement

Bloc Québécois leader Michel Gauthier succeeds Bloc founder Lucien Bouchard after he leaves the party to become premier of Quebec in 1996. During his time as leader of the Bloc, Mr. Gauthier is accused of lacking drive. Rumours fly that Mr. Bouchard is actually running the party from afar.

1997 - Gauthier's replacement

Mr. Gauthier's leadership is deemed lacklustre enough to prompt questions about whether the party has lost its focus and verve. Gilles Duceppe easily wins the race to become the party's next leader in March of 1997.

2006 - Back in the game

In the 2006 federal election, the Bloc Québécois under the leadership of Mr. Duceppe secures 51 seats in Parliament with 42 per cent of the vote in Quebec.

However, two years later, in the 2008 federal election, Mr. Duceppe and the Bloc only manage to secure 49 seats and the Bloc's share of the popular vote in Quebec falls to 38 per cent, its lowest result since 1997

2011 - Historic defeat

After 20 years with the Bloc Québécois, Leader Gilles Duceppe announces his resignation after his party is nearly obliterated during the federal election on May 2, 2011.

Mr. Duceppe failed to secure even his own seat in the riding of Laurier-Sainte-Marie, which he first won in a by-election in 1990.

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