QUEBEC - Former Health Minister Philippe Couillard received an important nod from a party bigwig Thursday in his quest to succeed Jean Charest as leader of the Quebec Liberal Party.

Lafontaine MNA Marc Tanguay, a past president of the party, said that he was “very favourable” to Couillard’s candidature.

The support from a past president, who left the post just two weeks ago, is seen as an indication that the party establishment would like Couillard to take the leadership.

Other likely leadership candidates include Raymond Bachand and Pierre Moreau

But Tanguay is behind Couillard.

“Based on my analysis, I’m very, very favourable to what Couillard can offer to the leadership of the Quebec Liberal Party and Quebec,” said Tanguay.

Tanguay said, however, that he did not want the leadership contest to be a coronation, as a leadership contest would allow for debates, renew the party’s program and energize supporters.

Three potential leadership candidates have been testing the waters in recent days.

Former Finance Minister Raymond Bachard is holding a press conference Friday morning to reveal his plans and Former Transport Minister Pierre Moreau is expected to do the same in coming days.

Most MNAs have not expressed a preference for one candidate over another, but Louis-Hebert MNA Sam Hamad has also come out in favour of Couillard.

Bachand has the stated support of Trois-Rivieries MNA Danielle St-Amand and former Minister of Culture Christine St-Pierre.