The Bloc Quebecois’ critic for agriculture has quit the party to sit as an independent MP in the House of Commons.
Andre Bellavance, the Bloc MP for Richmond-Athabaska since 2004 and a candidate in the party’s leadership contest in May, also confirmed to Quebec media he will not run in the next federal election, to be held in October 2015.
Bellavance, 50, lost in his bid to lead the party against Mario Beaulieu, former head of the pro-sovereignty Societe Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Montreal. [Related story]
At a press conference in Victoriaville, Bellavance told Quebec media Beaulieu’s vision and direction for the party are “diametrically opposed” to his own.
Bellavance said he did not support the idea that Bloc members pass a “purity test” on the issue of sovereignty, and that he did not wish to see the Bloc reduced to a fringe party.
In a separate statement Monday, Beaulieu said Bellavance had been reflecting on his political future since the leadership race, but had never really reconnected despite Beaulieu’s overtures of reconciliation.
Bellavance, a former radio journalist, had served as the Bloc’s caucus vice-chair since 2004, and as the party’s agriculture and agri-food critic since 2005.
He also served stints as a vice-chairman of the Commons standing committee on agriculture and agri-food (2005-11), and as vice-chair of the ag committee’s subcommittees on food safety (2009) and agenda and procedure (2006-07, 2008, 2009, 2010-11).
After the Bloc bench was reduced to just four MPs in the 2011 federal election, Bellavance served as the party’s leader in the House of Commons and also became critic for 15 other portfolios including health, justice and interprovincial and international trade.
With Beaulieu not yet elected to the Commons, and with the departure of Bellavance and rookie Bloc MP Jean-Francois Fortin, who left the party earlier this month, the Bloc now has just two MPs, Claude Patry and Louis Plamondon. Patry, who crossed from the New Democrats to the Bloc last year, recently announced he won’t seek re-election in 2015. — AGCanada.com Network