Former Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe says it’s time for the party’s embattled leader to listen to her caucus and step down.

Martine Ouellet refused to resign Wednesday after seven of Bloc’s 10 MPs abandoned the party, citing Ouellet’s leadership style. The seven MPs will sit as Independents in the House of Commons.

In an interview with CTV’s Power Play, Duceppe said it’s time for a fresh face to take the helm.

“When 70 per cent of the members of your caucus are saying that they don’t recognize themselves in your leadership, she should come to the conclusion that she should resign,” Duceppe said.

“If I would be in her place, I would come to that conclusion, like it or not.”

The dramatic departure is a devastating blow to the party’s federal footprint. With the 2019 election just 20 months away, Duceppe admitted that the news is “not a good thing, obviously.”

However, he said history has seen sudden shifts in how Quebec votes, such as the 2004 election. That year, 54 Bloc MPs were elected from Quebec, up from 38 in the previous race.

“So things could change very rapidly,” Duceppe said.

Duceppe, who served as the party’s chief for 15 years, flatly rejected the notion of running to replace Ouellet.

“It’s not a question of age. I’ll be 71, but Bernie Sanders is older than me. But the thing is, we need new people, I think,” he said.

In fact, Duceppe said he already knows several up-and-coming politicians who he thinks fit the right profile.

“They’re younger, they’re new, and it’s also important to have new faces.”

After the seven MPs announced their departure, Ouellet held a press conference to affirm her leadership.

"The door is open (for the seven to return) and it will always be open. I am staying on as leader. I was elected by the members of the Bloc Quebecois and they're the people who gave me the mandate," she said.

Part of the problem was a personality clash, Ouellet said. She admitted that her leadership style tends to be more "task-oriented" than "people-oriented."

"Unfortunately, there wasn't really any discussion or questions," she said. "They left the room pretty quickly.

The seven MPs include Louis Plamondon, Luc Theriault, Gabriel Ste-Marie, Rheal Fortin, Michel Boudrias, Simon Marcil and Monique Pauze.

With files from The Canadian Press