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Chretien | 1995 Referendum  | 1998 Seperation Ruling | Nunavut | Budget Surplus | Reform Party | The Bloc

Brian Mulroney had come to power by forging a coalitional of traditional Conservatives, disillusioned Liberals, Quebec Nationalists and right wing social conservatives. He managed to accommodate most of these views during his first mandate. By the time his second mandate was underway and he was looking to solidify his role in Canadian political legend by succeeding where he felt others had failed, by creating a consensus and national deal with Quebec over a renegotiated constitution, the coalition was starting to fragment.

Many of the Quebec nationalist had joined the Conservatives in Ottawa in order to manipulate the Government to benefit not just Quebec but a Quebec separation agenda. In 1990 the Conservatives produced a report that addressed changes that should be made to the Meech Lake Accord. Lucien Bouchard who had been one of Mulroney's main Quebec Lieutenants objected to the changes and refused to support them. Bouchard was fired by Mulroney when his nationalism was fully recognised and Bouchard lost no time in leaving the Conservative Party to form the Bloc which would be completely committed to Quebec separation. He was quickly followed by Nic Leblanc, Louis Plamondon, Benoit Trembley, Gilbert Chartrand and Francois Gerin from the Conservatives and two Liberal members of Parliament.

On August 13, 1990, in a by-election for the Montreal riding of Laurier-Sainte Marie, Gilles Duceppe was elected as the first un-official Bloc member.  With the complete collapse of the Progressive Conservatives in the 1993 Federal election, the Bloc were able to pickup 54 seats in Quebec and become the official opposition. The success of the Bloc was a shock to the rest of Canada by somewhat expected in Quebec where the failure of the two constitutional reform accords had ignite a resurgence of separatist support in the province. Bouchard was the leader of the Official Opposition and set about preparing for a vote on separation in Quebec.

In 1994 the PQ won the Quebec provincial election and shortly thereafter scheduled a referendum vote on separatism for 1995. The Bloc teamed up with the PQ to fight the referendum and Bouchard took the leading role in the battle. After the narrow lose to the Federalist forces Jacques Parizeau stepped down from the leadership of the PQ and as Quebec Premier. On January 26th, 1996 Bouchard replace Parizeau as Premier of Quebec and the Bloc chose, Michel Gauthier as it's new leader in Ottawa. His leadership was short lived due to infighting and just one year later Gilles Duceppe replaced him as leader of the Bloc.


he 1997 election reduced the number of Bloc seats in Ottawa to 44 and they spent most of their time fighting the Clarity Bill which was introduced and passed by the Chretien Liberals. The 200 election saw a further reduction in loc support to 38 seats but they have rebounded since then to regain ground.

The existence of the Bloc has served as a constant reminder of the question of separatism in Quebec and has created a deadlock in Canadian politics by preventing either the Liberals or the regenerated Conservatives, from gaining a majority in the last 3 elections. This may serve as their most effective legacy in attempting to destabilize Canadian confederation.