MONTREAL — Bloc Quebecois Leader Martine Ouellet and her allies proposed Thursday that members vote in a referendum to determine the party's main role.
Disagreements over the party's raison d'etre are the real reason behind the crisis that is currently rocking the party, she said.
Seven of its 10 MPs resigned from the Bloc caucus last week to protest Ouellet's leadership style and what they say is her heavy-handed approach to Quebec independence.
Ouellet was accompanied at a news conference in Montreal by the three remaining Bloc MPs as well as the party's vice-president.
She said the referendum will "settle once and for all" what role the party should play in representing its members.
Ouellet, meanwhile, rejected numerous calls for her to bring forward a vote on her leadership.
"That won't solve the issue," she said, adding the real reason for the tension in the party is due to what she called unresolved questions around its mission.
The seven members of the party who quit released a statement Thursday to say Ouellet refuses to see reality.
"For the past week, it seems clear to us Ms. Ouellet is in denial," the statement read. "She categorically rejects anyone who questions her leadership and she is trying to discredit our sovereigntist convictions."
Party officials will meet Saturday to determine the wording of the referendum question.
Another meeting will be held in April to determine whether the referendum proceeds.
The Canadian Press