MONTREAL -- Mario Beaulieu says he will put sovereignty front and centre if he becomes leader of the Bloc Quebecois.

Beaulieu says Quebec's independence movement has been on the defensive for far too long.

The outgoing head of the Societe Saint-Jean Baptiste in Montreal confirmed today he wants to be leader of the once-powerful party.

Beaulieu believes the Parti Quebecois' crushing defeat in the provincial election on April 7 occurred because the party diluted its sovereignty message and focused instead on good government.

He still has to gather the 1,000 signatures required to become a candidate.

Bloc MP Andre Bellavance is the only declared candidate so far. The new leader will be chosen by June 14 at the latest.