The party was created after the failure of the Meech Lake Accord, a pan-Canadian agreement on the recognition of Quebec as a distinct society, according the province a constitutional veto and other cultural rights. The treaty was signed in 1987 but was not ratified by enough provincial legislatures. Their first members of parliament were dissident Quebec Members of Parliament(MP) from the Conservative Party of Canada and the Liberal Party of Canada who had abandoned the federalist option after the failure of the Meech Lake Accords.
The party was founded by former Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament, Lucien Bouchard, who led the party from its formation in 1990 until 1996, when he resigned to become Premier of Quebec.
The party elected Gilles Duceppe, a communist party supporter in his youth, who was the first elected Bloc Québécois Member of Parliament in the Canadian House of Commons through a by-election in August 1990, their leader in 1997. Duceppe lost his seat in the 2011 federal election.
Former Bloc Québécois Member of Parliament Daniel Paillé was elected their leader in December 2011, despite not having a seat in parliament.
At their first general election, in 1993, the Bloc elected 54 MPs out of 75 seats in Québec. In November 2009, they had 51 elected MPs at the Canadian parliament. As of May 2, 2011 they now have 4 seats, not enough for official party status.
In Québec they run against the Conservative Party of Canada, the Liberal Party of Canada and the New Democratic Party. They are largely ignored by the rest of Canada, except maybe by the thousands of French-speaking Canadians living outside of Quebec.
It is now using its seats to further the French-Canadian nationalistic political agenda. Its provincial equivalent is the Parti Québécois.