Bloc ag critic’s leadership bid comes up short

Andre Bellavance, the Bloc Quebecois’ critic for agriculture, agri-food and international and interprovincial trade, finished second Saturday in a two-man race for the federal party’s leadership.

Mario Beaulieu, head of the pro-sovereignty Societe Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Montreal from 2009 until this year, was elected Saturday as the Bloc’s new leader. He replaces Daniel Paille, who stepped down late last year citing health reasons.

According to Radio-Canada, Beaulieu pulled in 53.5 per cent of the support from voting members during the weekend leadership convention in Montreal. About 58.5 per cent of the party’s 19,000-odd active members took part in the phone-in vote, the network said.

Bellavance is the MP for the riding of Richmond-Arthabaska and has been the Bloc’s caucus vice-chair since 2004 and critic for agriculture and agri-food since 2005.

Following the 2011 federal election, the former journalist became the Bloc’s leader in the House of Commons and also became critic for 16 portfolios including health and justice, among others.

As a party leader without a Commons seat, Beaulieu inherits a caucus decimated from the official Opposition status it held in the mid-1990s.

Quebec’s voters largely dropped the Bloc in 2011 in favour of Jack Layton’s New Democrats, cutting the BQ caucus from 49 MPs in 2008 to just four.

Beaulieu, in his leadership bid, proposed closer ties between the Bloc and other pro-sovereignty organizations and citizens’ groups, and called for Bloc MPs to support such groups by donating a portion of their federal salaries to the promotion of sovereignty.

The Bloc’s three other MPs, Jean-Francois Fortin, Claude Patry and Louis Plamondon, all endorsed Bellavance in his leadership bid. — Network


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