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Quebec Liberals, CAQ name ag critics

Quebec’s two main opposition parties have named their critics for the agriculture portfolio to face the new Parti Quebecois government when the assembly reopens next month.

Stephane Billette, the MNA for the Monteregie riding of Huntingdon since 2008, will handle the agriculture and fisheries file for the official opposition Liberals, interim leader Jean-Marc Fournier said Wednesday.

Billette, a businessman and crop producer, had been best known for his work on economic development for the Monteregie, previously serving as director of the local development office (CLD) for Haut-St-Laurent in Huntingdon, about 70 km east of Cornwall, Ont.

In 2008 he won the Huntingdon riding for the Liberals from Albert De Martin, a corn, soy and wheat grower who had been the official opposition ag critic for the now-defunct Action Democratique du Quebec(ADQ).

Billette said Wednesday on Twitter that his new post would be a "beau defi" (exciting challenge).

Fournier on Wednesday also named a former Liberal agriculture minister, Laurent Lessard, as the party’s critic for economic development.

Francois Legault, leader of the new second-opposition Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ), named Nicolet-Becancour MNA Donald Martel last Friday as that party’s ag, food and fisheries critic and as critic for the Centre-du-Quebec region.

Martel, before his election to the assembly earlier this month, had been director of the Nicolet-Yamaska regional municipality (MRC) and is credited as one of the founders of the Quebec Municipal Employees Retirement Plan in 2007.

Before joining the CAQ, Martel had run unsuccessfully in what was then the riding of Nicolet-Yamaska, as a PQ candidate in the 2007 provincial election. He defeated PQ MNA Jean-Martin Aussant on Sept. 4.

The Quebec assembly reconvenes on Oct. 30 at 2 p.m. Pauline Marois’ PQ will lead a minority government with 54 seats, against the Liberals with 50 and CAQ with 19. A fourth party, Quebec Solidaire, holds two seats.

Marois last week named veteran PQ MNA Francois Gendron as the party’s new minister for agriculture, fisheries and food.

Related stories:
Quebec assembly’s ‘dean’ named agriculture minister, Sept. 20, 2012
Quebec ag minister unseated in PQ minority win, Sept. 5, 2012

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