SAINT-HYACINTHE, Que. -- A former leader of the Bloc Quebecois is joining the federal Conservative party.

Michel Gauthier made the announcement today at a Conservative Party of Canada meeting in Saint-Hyacinthe, Que.

The former MP says he's no longer a sovereigntist and believes the Conservative party is the best one to serve Quebec's interests.

Gauthier was first elected to the House of Commons in 1993 and led the Bloc Quebecois from 1996 to 1997.

He continued to occupy a prominent role in the party before leaving politics in 2007.

He says he won't run in the next federal election but will lend a hand to the party's candidates in Quebec.