Gilles Duceppe, MP (born July 22, 1947) is a Canadian politician, and proponent of the Québec sovereignty movement. He was a Member of Parliament in the Canadian House of Commons for over 20 years and was the leader of the sovereigntist Bloc Québécois for almost 15 years. He is the son of a well-known Quebec actor, Jean Duceppe. He was Leader of the Official Opposition in the Parliament of Canada from March 17, 1997 to June 1, 1997. He resigned as party leader after 2011 election, in which he lost his own seat to New Democratic Party (NDP) candidate Hélène Laverdière and his party suffered a heavy defeat.
In 1990, Duceppe was elected to the Canadian House of Commons as an independent because the Bloc had not been registered by Elections Canada as a political party. All of the Bloc's other Members of Parliament had crossed the floor from either the Progressive Conservative Party or the Liberal Party earlier that year.
Duceppe's victory in a by-election demonstrated – for the first time – that the party had electoral support in Quebec and could win elections. Previously, many pundits (and members of other parties) predicted that the Bloc would not gain traction with ordinary voters in Quebec.
In 1996, when Lucien Bouchard stepped down as Bloc leader to become leader of the Parti Québécois, Duceppe served as interim leader of the party. Michel Gauthier eventually became the official leader later that year. However, Gauthier's lack of visibility in both Quebec and English Canada coupled with his weak leadership resulted in the party forcing him out in 1997. Duceppe won the ensuing leadership contest and became the official leader of the Bloc Québécois and Leader of the Opposition.
As Leader of the Opposition, Duceppe was entitled to membership in the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, but he rejected it.
In the March 26, 2007 Quebec provincial election, the Parti Québécois found itself reduced to third place in the National Assembly of Quebec, behind both the governing Quebec Liberal Party and the opposition Action démocratique du Québec. Following this disappointing result, the PQ leader, André Boisclair, announced his resignation on May 8, 2007. Duceppe confirmed on May 11, 2007, that he would seek the PQ leadership but the next day he withdrew from the race. After his withdrawal, Duceppe announced that he would support two-time leadership hopeful Pauline Marois.
In the 2008 federal election, Duceppe led the Bloc Québécois to 49 seats, up one from its pre-dissolution standing of 48. However, the Bloc's share of the popular vote fell again, to 38%, its lowest result since 1997.
In the 2011 federal election, the Bloc suffered a massive 43-seat loss--including many seats they'd held since their 1993 breakthrough--cutting them down to a rump of four seats. Much of that support bled to the NDP, which won 58 seats, including a sweep of the Bloc's heartlands in Quebec City and eastern Montreal. Duceppe lost his own seat. Accepting responsibility for the Bloc's crushing defeat, Duceppe announced his pending resignation as Bloc leader soon after the result was beyond doubt. He remained defiant, however, vowing not to rest "until Quebec becomes a country".