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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

New Bloc leader doesn't plan any changes after resignations from party

OTTAWA - The new Bloc Quebecois leader said Wednesday he's not going to change his methods despite losing another caucus member.

Mario Beaulieu told The Canadian Press most Bloc members are rallying around him even though the party now has only two MPs.

"The goal is to get everyone," he said. "And I'm listening. It's certain the hill is higher to climb."

Beaulieu has made Quebec independence the priority for the federal party.

Bloc MP Jean-Francois Fortin quit the party a few weeks ago and was followed on Monday by Andre Bellavance.

That leaves Louis Plamondon and Claude Patry as the party's sole MPs. Patry is not seeking re-election in next year's vote.

Beaulieu also said he had a cordial meeting Wednesday with former Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe.

In becoming Bloc leader in June, Beaulieu criticized the party brass for its go-slow approach over the years to achieving sovereignty.

Beaulieu said Wednesday a national securities regulator was discussed during the meeting with Duceppe as were intercultural relations but he didn't say anything about leadership.

Duceppe had said he wanted Beaulieu to correct some statements he made criticizing the go-slow approach to sovereignty promoted by Duceppe and other previous Bloc leaders. Beaulieu described the approach as defeatist when he was elected Bloc leader in June.

"I didn't rectify it," Beaulieu said after the meeting. "I explained it."

He said younger generations needed a new push on sovereignty because they weren't all around for the 1995 referendum, which the sovereigntists lost by a razor-thin margin.

Beaulieu said he believed things are "settled" with Duceppe.

Duceppe said he had asked Beaulieu "to think."

He still took issue with Beaulieu's criticism.

"The statements were wrong," he said. "Errors don't help."

Duceppe did reject suggestions that Bloc members had made a mistake in choosing Beaulieu to lead them.

"It was a democratic decision," he said.

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