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Former Quebec ag minister won’t run again

Maxime Arseneau, who served as Quebec’s agriculture minister in Bernard Landry’s Parti Quebecois government, has announced he won’t seek a fourth term in the next provincial election.

Arseneau, a teacher by profession and the MNA for the Iles-de-la-Madeleine riding since 1998, was the tourism minister (1998-2001) for then-premier Lucien Bouchard before taking on the agriculture, fisheries and food file under Landry from 2001 to 2003.

Arseneau was the PQ’s agriculture critic from October 2004 until September this year and had also been the temporary chairman of the assembly’s agriculture, fisheries and food committee since May last year.

Arseneau had stepped down from the ag critic portfolio in September when he announced his candidacy for the post of president of the Quebec assembly, a job that went to fellow PQ MNA Francois Gendron in October. PQ leader Pauline Marois replaced Arseneau in the ag critic file with Labelle MNA Sylvain Page.

The decision not to seek office again was not an easy one to make, Arseneau, 58, said Monday in a release, but “there comes a day when one must move to another stage in one’s life” and he plans to spend more time with his family in the coming years.

Arseneau said he plans to remain active within the PQ and with the Quebec sovereignty movement generally.

Jean Charest, whose Liberals defeated the PQ in 2003 and who now presides over a minority government, is widely expected to call an election for sometime before Christmas, within the next few days.

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