Coalition Avenir Quebec leader Francois Legault was on the defence on Wednesday, saying he had no way of knowing about a candidate who was forced to withdraw's past.

The party issued a statement Tuesday evening saying it was withdrawing Stéphane Laroche from running in the riding of Saint-Jean.

The party said they were dropping him over a lack of transparency as well as failure to respect pay equity.

Laroche is the owner of the O'Bock pub in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. The establishment is known, according to a report in The Canadian Press, for repeatedly allowing underaged people inside despite numerous warnings.

He also paid female employees there less than its male employees, according to The Canadian Press report.

On Wednesday, party leader Francois Legault said he was unaware of Laroche's past.

"It's impossible to make sure that nothing has been done by a candidate in his past," said Legault. "Of course, we have to rely on the good faith of each candidate, we are asking them questions about information, if they become public, that would hurt the party and the candidate. But if they don't tell us, and that's what I didn't like from Mr. Laroche, he didn't tell us about some problems he had."

Described as a ‘multi-recidivist,’ Laroche has in recent years been in trouble with the Liquor, Racing and Gaming Authority (RACJ), which suspended his liquor licence three times, and with the Standards Commission, of Equity, Health and Safety at Work (CNESST) because he did not comply with the Pay Equity Act.

This is the second dropped candidate in recent days. Last week, CAQ president Stephane Le Bouyonnec resigned amid continued controversy over his business interests.

Legault tries to swing Libs in Lotbiniere

The news broke on a day when CAQ leader Francois Legault campaigned in the swing riding of Lotbiniere-Frontenac, currently held by the Liberals.

The riding sits midway between Quebec City and Sherbrooke, and includes the city of Thetford Mines.

The outgoing MNA there is Laurent Lessard, who decided not to run again after 15 years at the National Assembly

Legault's promise of the day was a boost in investment for support centres and increased tax credits for caregivers.

“Right now they are at about $1100 per person. We want to increase that to $2,500,” said Legault.

Legault also reacted to the Liberal Party's latest attacks.

On Monday, three Liberal MNAs called a press conference to give a rundown on what they labelled the CAQ's ‘disastrous week’ on the campaign trail.

“Mr. Couillard decided to have a negative campaign, but he's not courageous enough to do that himself. He's sending other people,” Legault said.

Backing up Legault Tuesday was Marguerite Blais, a former Liberal cabinet minister now running for the CAQ in Prevost and disappointed with her old party.

“This is old politics. We want to talk about real subjects, subjects that touch people, and that's what we're doing at the Coalition Avenir Quebec,” she said.

Campaigning in Gaspé, 750 kilometres away, Liberal leader Philippe Couillard defended his party’s strategy, saying they're simply pointing out what they see as the CAQ's inconsistencies and lack of transparency.

With files from The Canadian Press