Quebec ag minister won’t run again

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With just under four months before the province’s next election, Quebec’s current minister of agriculture, food and fisheries won’t be in the running.

Laurent Lessard ended weeks of speculation Friday when he announced he won’t seek a sixth term as the MNA for Lotbiniere-Frontenac.

In a statement on Facebook, Lessard, 55, thanked his constituents for their support over the past 15 years and said he would continue to vigorously defend their interests right up until election day, scheduled for Oct. 1.

A lawyer and former mayor for the city of Thetford Mines (1999-2003), Lessard entered provincial politics as the Liberal MNA for what was then the Frontenac riding in 2003.

After a stint as minister of labour, Lessard served as then-premier Jean Charest’s agriculture minister in 2007 and 2008, and returned to the post in 2010-11 after then-ag minister Claude Bechard died of cancer.

After the Liberals returned to power in 2014, Lessard served as minister for forests, wildlife and parks and later for transport. Premier Philippe Couillard brought him back to the agriculture portfolio in early 2017 following the firing of then-minister Pierre Paradis.

Speaking Friday to the Union des producteurs agricoles’ (UPA) journal La Terre de chez nous, UPA president Marcel Groleau hailed Lessard as a minister with a great respect for farmers.

Often in federal and provincial politics, ministers who opt not to run again are replaced at the cabinet table, but Couillard hasn’t yet said whether Lessard will remain in cabinet heading into the next election. — Network

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