UPDATE 2-Leader of Canada's separatist Parti Quebecois steps down

Mon May 2, 2016 4:13pm EDT
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(Adds pollster, succession details, background)

By Allison Lampert

MONTREAL May 2 (Reuters) - The leader of the separatist party in Canada's French-speaking province of Quebec stepped down on Monday less than a year after being elected, saying he needed to choose family over work.

The abrupt resignation of Parti Quebecois leader Pierre Karl Peladeau, 54, a former chief executive of Quebec's largest media company, Quebecor Inc, led to speculation he may return to the business world.

He became the party's leader in May 2015 promising to take Quebec out of Canada and make it a country but he struggled to make gains against the ruling provincial Liberals.

"I had to make a choice between my family and our political project," Peladeau said during a surprise news conference. "I chose my family."

Speculation about Peladeau's political future had increased after his marriage last year to talk-show host and producer Julie Snyder foundered. The two announced a separation in January. At the time, Peladeau said he would stay on as leader.

During its previous times in government, the Parti Quebecois unsuccessfully held two referendums on the province seceding from Canada, but recent polls showed the cause had faded as a priority with voters.

The task of rebuilding after the party's worst defeat in 40 years in the April 2014 election proved an uphill battle against the Quebec Liberals, a federalist party, as separatist forces split between the PQ and rival Quebec Solidaire.   Continued...