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Mario Beaulieu to put sovereignty front and centre if he becomes Bloc leader

MONTREAL - An ardent sovereigntist who wants to be leader of the Bloc Quebecois says promoting the merits of independence will be his main priority.

Mario Beaulieu believes the Parti Quebecois' crushing defeat in the provincial election on April 7 occurred because the party diluted its sovereignty message and focused instead on good government.

"The result was the culmination of a defensive strategy that has been in place for 20 years and that has been centred on good government as a province instead of on the need to become a country," Beaulieu told a news conference Wednesday.

"We have to adopt a new strategy if we want new results."

Beaulieu said sovereigntists are equipped with only a "peashooter" compared with the millions of dollars he claims federalists have at their disposal to promote their vision of Canada.

As a result, he has come up with a proposal to fund the promotion of sovereignty: that every Bloc MP donate $50,000, the difference between what an MP and a member of the Quebec legislature earns.

The outgoing head of the staunchly nationalist Societe Saint-Jean Baptiste in Montreal still has to gather 1,000 signatures required to become a candidate. The deadline is May 7.

Bloc MP Andre Bellavance is the only declared candidate so far.

The new leader will be chosen by June 14 at the latest.

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