March 18, 2017 4:27 pm

Martine Ouellet named new leader of the Bloc Quebecois

Newly acclaimed Bloc Quebecois leader Martine Ouellet salutes supporters during a rally Saturday, March 18, 2017 in Montreal.

Paul Chiasson / The Canadian Press

Martine Ouellet was crowned the new leader of the Bloc Quebecois at a rally in Montreal on Saturday, after running unopposed.

Her only rival, Felix Pinel, had to withdraw from the race last week after failing to attract the necessary number of signatures on his nomination papers to run.

The new Bloc leader wasted no time in attacking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who she called a friend of the oil industry. She also called the proposed Energy East pipeline a threat to Quebec’s fresh water supply.

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The ex-Parti Quebecois MNA, now an independent, plans to keep her seat in the Quebec National Assembly until the end of her mandate in October 2018. She will run for the Bloc in the next federal election, with a team she says will have gender parity.

The Bloc’s caucus chair, Louis Plamondon, said that he is happy that a woman will lead the Bloc for the first time. He thinks she will have ample time to restructure the party and to tour Quebec to get her name out to voters.

Plamondon sees no problems with Oullet’s decision to remain in the provincial legislature, as it falls within the ethics code.

But not everyone is so relaxed about Ouellet’s dual roles. Quebec premier Philippe Couillard said he objects to her keeping her provincial seat because it means that funds meant to support members of the provincial assembly will instead be going towards federal political activities.

The Bloc Quebecois currently has 10 seats in the House of Commons.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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