October 22, 2015 / 1:01 AM / in 5 years

Quebec separatist party leader Duceppe to step down - media

Gilles Duceppe gestures as he announces his return to federal politics as leader of the Bloc Quebecois, during a news conference in Montreal, in this file photo taken June 10, 2015. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi/Files

TORONTO (Reuters) - Gilles Duceppe, a veteran advocate for the independence of Quebec, will step down as leader of the separatist Bloc Quebecois party after failing to win a seat in Canada’s Monday election, broadcaster Radio-Canada said on Wednesday.

The CBC’s French-language service, which did not cite sources, said Duceppe has a news conference scheduled in Montreal on Thursday.

The party did not immediately respond to a call and email seeking comment.

Duceppe came out of retirement in June to lead the Bloc. While 10 members of the party were elected on Monday, this was two short of what was needed for the group to win official party status in Canada’s House of Commons.

Duceppe had previously quit politics in 2011 after losing his Montreal seat during a federal election that year.

Even though it fields federal candidates in just one province, the Bloc was once a major force in Canadian politics, becoming the largest opposition party in the 1993 election.

Duceppe previously led the Bloc from 1997 to 2011, garnering between 38 and 54 seats in all but the last election in that period. That year the party was reduced to just four seats.

Canadian Liberal leader Justin Trudeau rode a late surge to a stunning majority election victory on Monday, toppling Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives with a promise of change.

Reporting by Jeffrey Hodgson; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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