Source AP ©

Leader of Quebec's separatist party resigns month after election

The leader of Quebec's separatist party resigned, just over a month after his party finished poorly in an election in the French-speaking province.

Parti Quebecois had promised to hold a quick referendum to pull Quebec out of Canada if Andrew Boisclair won the March election. The party finished third

Boisclair's position was further weakened because of a recent spat involving Quebec's separatist leader in Ottawa Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe who is viewed as the front-runner to become Parti Quebecois leader.

Boisclair became the first openly gay person to lead a political party in Canada when the Parti Quebecois party voted him as their leader in 2005.

He was pilloried after admitting he used cocaine as a cabinet minister in the 1990s and was viewed as a thin-skinned political lightweight who could not handle criticism.

"I gave the best of myself in this position but the current conditions don't allow me to do this anymore," Boisclair said.

While separation was not a major issue in the recent election, it is never far from the surface as support for independence usually hovers around 45 percent.

But the idea of holding another referendum is unpopular in Quebec and Boisclair's personal popularity lagged behind that of Liberal Premier Jean Charest and opposition leader Mario Dumont, whose party seeks to trim government and obtain more autonomy for Quebec within a united Canada.

Quebec has held two failed referendums on sovereignty. The first was 27 years ago, and the second in 1995. It failed by less than 1 percent.

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