Former finance minister Raymond Bachand leaving politics
Raymond Bachand, the former finance minister for the Liberal Party of Quebec, is leaving politics.
Saying he wants to spend more time with his family, Bachand, 65, said he will step down before the National Assembly resumes sitting in two weeks.
He made an unsuccessful bid to become leader of the provincial party earlier this year, losing out to former health minister Philippe Couillard who currently does not have a seat in the National Assembly.
Bachand explained his departure Monday at a press conference in Montreal.
“I am not a career politician. I've been doing this for eight years and I feel the need to change. It's an exciting job but it's 80 hours a week, seven days a week, leaving no time for grandpa to take care of his little girl, no time to for almost anything else. I liked it, I chose this job but as summer came to an end I couldn’t see doing this for another four years," he said.
Bachand was a late convert to the Liberal party, joining in 2005 at age 58 and becoming the MNA for Outremont.
He served as finance minister from January 2009 until the 2012 general election. He was also responsible for the Montreal region from 2008 to 2012. While in opposition he served as finance critic.
Before that he was a Parti Quebecois supporter, and was a staff member for Rene Levesque during the first sovereignty referendum in 1980.
After that he left politics, going on to work in busniness and help found Oxfam Quebec, but continued contributing to the separatist party until 2003.
He is the second Liberal MNA to step down this month, with Emmanuel Dubourg vacating his seat for the chance to run in a federal riding.
He said he holds no ill-will against his former leadership rival Philippe Couillard who he said "will make an excellent premier."
Bachand is expected to receive around $150,000 in a transition payment when he departs.
“There were difficult periods,” said Bachand. “When you try to do a budget and have billions of deficits and requests, that’s a difficult job to do but that’s more of a challenge than a low point, I’ll write that in my memoirs.”
Former Liberal leader Jean Charest said he was surprised when he received a call from Bachand Sunday telling him of his intention to quit.
“He has dedicated the best years of his life to public service,” Charest told CTV Montreal.
“He has done extremely well for Quebec on the economy, he helped us come through the economic crisis with flying colours. He negotiated a major agreement with the federal government that brought us $2.2 billion revenue on the sales tax. His record is outstanding.”
Couillard has named veteran Liberal Pierre Paradis, 63, to replace Bachand as finance critic.
Paradis, a committed federalist who entered the assembly in 1980, has long been seen as being on the right wing of the economic spectrum and was responsible for a policy of sending inspectors to the homes of welfare recipients in 1986.
However Paradis, a lawyer by trade, from the Eastern Townships, was not favoured by former leader Jean Charest, who kept him out of cabinet since 2003.
CAQ leader Francois Legault said Monday that the Liberals will feel Bachand's loss.
"He had practical experience. We didn't always agree but it happened occasionally. Keep in mind that he was deeply committed to the party for many years and his departure weakens the Liberals' economic team," said Legault.
The byelection to determine a new representative for Bachand's vacated Outremont seat is expected to cost taxpayers about $600,000.
-With a file from The Canadian Press