Former Quebec premier Jean Charest will not run for Conservative leadership
Jean Charest is seen during a panel discussion at the Canadian Aerospace Summit in Ottawa on November 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
MONTREAL -- Despite weeks of rumours and speculation, former Quebec premier Jean Charest will not run to replace Andrew Scheer as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.
"After careful consideration, I will not be running for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada," Charest said in a statement Tuesday afternoon
Charest cited several factors for his decision, including his belief that the race is not set up well for candidates currently not in the party, and that the party itself has changed significantly since he was in federal politics.
He also cited a desire not to affect his happy family life, nor his busy career with the legal firm of McCarthy Tetrault.
Charest also said he is "deeply concerned that the people of Canada are politically divided and that this has already become an obstacle to our economic growth. Canada needs a national political alternative striving to represent each and every region of our country. Canada's future depends on it."
While Charest did not endorse any other leadership candidate, he did make a point of saying that the party "must offer Canadians a credible and ambitious plan in regard to the management of our natural resources and the fight against climate change. One does not exclude the other!"
Charest was premier of Quebec from 2003 to 2012 and led the federal Progressive Conservative Party from 1993 to 1998.
Charest has been under investigation since 2014 by UPAC, Quebec's anti-corruption squad, regarding illegal financing of the Quebec Liberal Party.
Last week, UPAC affidavits regarding its investigation into Marc Bibeau, a top party fundraiser under Charest's Liberals, were unsealed.
Charest's lawyer responded to the release of the affidavits by urging UPAC to drop its investigation, saying Charest has committed no crimes and has cooperated completely with investigators.