Bellemare backs away from challenging Charest
Published Friday, August 17, 2012 10:44AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, August 17, 2012 6:39PM EDT
MONTREAL—A constant thorn for Jean Charest, former Justice Minister Marc Bellemare won’t challenge the premier in his riding of Sherbrooke.
Ending speculation that he would try to unseat the premier, Bellemare threw his support behind Parti Quebecois challenger Serge Cardin on Friday morning.
“The people of Quebec can’t support a prime minister that lies and has hidden [corruption] that is so big from them for years,” said Bellemare.
In 2010, Bellemare testified to the Bastarache Commission that he was pressured to name judges to the bench based on the recommendation of big Liberal contributors while he served as the province’s attorney general.
Charest and Bellemare then sued each other over the issue before eventually agreeing to drop legal proceedings.
Cardin says he is happy Bellemare is not running because of possible vote-splitting.
"We are pleased to learn that Marc Bellemare is supporting us," a spokesman for Cardin said in an email. "Mr. Bellemare understood he would have split the vote.
"Like a majority of Quebecers, Mr. Bellemare considers that Quebec deserves more than a corrupted and washed-up government.
With Charest trailing behind Cardin in the polls, many feared that the former minister’s presence on the ticket could split the vote in the premier’s favour. One recent poll suggested Cardin was leading Charest by 15 percentage points. The Liberal leader has represented Sherbrooke since 1998.
Unseated during the Orange Wave in last year’s federal election, Cardin had represented the Sherbrooke-area in Ottawa for 13 years.
Bellemare left the Liberals in 2004 after they failed to fulfil an election promise to kill the province's no-fault insurance law—legislation he has staunchly opposed for years.
--with files from The Canadian Press.