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Former Parti Quebecois cabinet minister Yves-Francois Blanchet announced Monday he will run for the vacant Bloc Quebecois leadership.

Speaking in the foyer of the House of Common, Blanchet said the Bloc is still needed to represent the Quebec sovereigntist movement while the Parti Quebecois is in opposition in the provincial legislature.

“I think we have to recognize that the sovereigntist movement is not in its best glory years,” he said.

He said the movement needs to end the “magical thinking” that just because sovereigntists think their project is good, the people of Quebec are automatically going to agree. “The demonstration has to be made,” he said.

So far, at least five of the 10 Bloc caucus members have confirmed their support for Blanchet’s leadership bid.

A well-known political commentator on Radio-Canada in recent years, he was first elected provincially in 2008 and served as environment minister in Pauline Marois’ short-lived minority PQ government between 2012 and 2014.

Blanchet was critical of former Bloc leader Martine Ouellet during her tumultuous run as party leader. Interim Bloc leader Mario Beaulieu has been attempting to bridge the factions within the party for the past eight months.

The leadership race officially begins Dec. 14 with the new leader to be chosen Feb. 24.

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