Labour Minister David Whissell said Wednesday that he has resigned his cabinet post following conflict-of-interest allegations.

Whissell, 42, made the announcement in Quebec City with Premier Jean Charest by his side.

He will continue to represent the riding of Argenteuil in the provincial legislature.

Whissell had come under fire over reports of untendered public contracts to a construction company he co-owns.

The blow arrives with Charest's Liberals riding high in the polls a year into their third term, managing to elude controversy despite the recession and heavy losses at the province's pension fund.

This period of smooth sailing came after a rocky, scandal-plagued first term for Charest.

But observers credit personnel changes in his office and an aversion to controversial policy for his restored popularity.

Got government contracts

The company ABC River-Nord, which Whissell co-owns, won $800,000 in government contracts -- including one worth $564,000 for paving work in his own riding.

Quebec's public-sector union called for an investigation on how the contracts were awarded without a public call for tenders.

Whissell said last week that he had always been transparent and had respected Quebec laws.

Under provincial law, a public call for tenders is necessary for any contract worth more than $100,000, expect in urgent cases or for work needed in remote areas.

New rules

Charest announced Wednesday that he is barring ministers from owning an interest in companies that do business with the government.

- With files from The Canadian Press -