Weekend Reads Bloc chief Martine Ouellet puts down revolt against her leadership

02:55  09 june  2017
02:55  09 june  2017 Source:   The Gazette

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Top Stories. Bloc chief Martine Ouellet puts down revolt against her leadership .

Bloc chief Martine Ouellet puts down revolt against her leadership . Show of unity follows a full day and night of high drama in the party.

Martine Ouellet © Jacques Boissinot Martine Ouellet

QUEBEC — Embattled Bloc Québécois leader Martine Ouellet has managed to put down for now an open mutiny against her leadership.

Emerging from an emergency caucus meeting of the Bloc’s 10 MPs in Ottawa, Ouellet said she apologized to former interim party leader Rhéal Fortin for an incident in which Ouellet’s chief of staff tried to sully Fortin’s name in a clan power struggle.

“If I hurt him, I apologize,” Ouellet told reporters. “I have full confidence in Rhéal, who did excellent work as the interim leader supporting the Bloc for 18 months.”

She said she rapidly disassociated herself from the incident in question and fired the chief of staff.

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“Food overrides everything in these birds. He begged away and mom and dad said, ‘OK, here’s an open, gaping beak. Let’s put food in it.’ ” Bloc chief Martine Ouellet puts down revolt against her leadership .

Turmoil comes after Ouellet fired her chief of staff for allegedly trying to discredit a Bloc MP. Bloc Québécois leader Martine Ouellet is facing a revolt from seven of her party's 10 MPs, who say their trust in her leadership has been shaken.

“We had extremely constructive discussions,” Ouellet added. “We all want to work together, and that’s what we’re going to do in the future.”

At her side, Fortin responded that he has accepted the apology and is ready again to work with Ouellet, embroiled in her first crisis as leader only three months into the job.

“I accept Martine’s apology with humility and enthusiasm,” Fortin said. “She’s our leader, I want to work with her, and I think we will continue on our path.”

“I can say we had a good working session,” added Bloc house leader Gabriel Ste-Marie, a member of the group of seven MPs who revolted against Ouellet Wednesday.

“We had good exchanges. The Bloc is united. Martine is our leader, she has our full confidence, and you will see we will move mountains together.”

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The show of unity follows a full day and night of high drama in the party sparked when Ouellet’s chief of staff,  Louis-Philippe Dubois, tried to leak information damaging to Fortin’s reputation to the Huffington Post.

In response to the report, Ouellet fired Dubois, saying he had lost the trust of the caucus.

But inside the caucus, there were suspicions Ouellet was behind the leak because they could not believe Dubois could have made such a decision without her accord. The incident only fueled the level of distrust between Ouellet and the caucus.

The rebels  said Ouellet should never have named Dubois to the post because he has no experience. By late Wednesday, seven Bloc MPs revolted, saying they had lost confidence in Ouellet.

Ouellet went on a Montreal radio station Wednesday and denied any knowledge of what was going on and accused the caucus of leaking other damaging information to the media.

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Martine Ouellet enters Bloc Québécois leadership race. Nevertheless, that puts her in the unusual position of leading a federal party but representing constituents at the provincial level.

“There is a kind of mutiny happening and I think it has to stop,” Ouellet said. “It’s not the first time. Mario Beaulieu (the former Bloc leader) experienced the same thing.”

Rushing to Ottawa Wednesday evening from Quebec City where she sits as a provincial politician, Ouellet went into the caucus guns blazing and determined to regain control.

“My message this morning before the meeting is that recess is over,” Ouellet told reporters. “I have had enough of this childish behaviour and the acts of sabotage. Certain MPs are going to have a choice to make. Party democracy has spoken. They will have a choice to respect it or not.”

But veteran Bloc MP Louis Plamondon — one of the seven Bloc MPs rebelling against Ouellet’s leadership in a crisis that blew up Wednesday — was also clear.

“For the moment, our confidence in her (Ouellet) is broken,” Plamondon told reporters as he arrived. “That means she has to regain our confidence for us to be able to continue working with her. I think the debate in caucus will help us find a solution.”

Thursday, Dubois released a letter to the media in which he steered the blame for the crisis right back at the rebels.

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He said the “group of seven” emerged the day he arrived on the job and tried to wield power. He tried everything he could to “protect the leader.”

“Their objective? ” Dubois said. “Restrict the leader in her choice of party officers (in the house), impose their veto on the nomination of her chief of staff and to control all hiring on top of supervising all the personnel in the legislative wing.

“The longer the situation dragged on, the deeper the poison sank in (and) the more the dynamic became toxic and untenable,” Dubois said, adding he is a victim of a string of lies produced by the rebels.

He admitted he tried to leak the information about Fortin, saying he wanted it to come out now before the next federal election where it could cause the Bloc real damage.

He said Ouellet tried to cohabitate with the group but to no avail.

Far off in Quebec City, reporters tried to get Parti Québécois Leader Jean-François Lisée to talk about the mess in the PQ’s sister party, but he refused other than to urge everyone to talk.

“Quebec needs the Bloc Québécois,” Lisée said at a news conference. “We have a prime minister, Justin Trudeau, who is contemptuous toward Quebec. Quebec has to be defended in Ottawa and it’s not federal Liberal MPs who are doing it and not the Conservative MPs.

“It’s the Bloc Québécois.”

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Martine Ouellet (born April 8, 1969) is a Canadian politician and the leader of Bloc Québécois (BQ). Ouellet graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from McGill University and gained a M.B.A from the HEC Montreal.

Asked if he is willing to step in, Lisée was clear.

“I don’t meddle in the internal debates of the Bloc,” he said. “I ask them to settle their problems. I ask them to discuss their internal problems and settle them and to think of Quebec’s interests. That is what should guide them.”

He refused to speculate on what the future holds for Ouellet, who is a former PQ MNA and still sits as an independent in the Quebec legislature.

The logistical problems with her wearing the two hats — she is far from the action inside her Bloc caucus in Ottawa — came back to haunt Ouellet Wednesday when the crisis blew up.

With the National Assembly sitting in intensive session, Ouellet was forced to drop everything and rush to Ottawa to try to put out the fire.

The seven MPs, however, were clear at a hastily called news conference Wednesday afternoon.

“We learned that Louis-Philippe Dubois was working more against the Bloc MPs than for the Bloc,” said Bloc house leader Gabriel Ste-Marie during a news conference surrounded by the other six MPs.

“It was an enormous lack of judgement to have named Dubois as chief of staff. We told her (Ouellet) he didn’t have the competencies and that he didn’t have our confidence.”

He said the caucus fully supports Fortin.

“We are with him and he has our full confidence,” Ste-Marie said.

pauthier@postmedia.com

Twitter: @PhilipAuthier

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