Fatima Houda-Pepin, the former Quebec Liberal MNA recently expelled from caucus for her pro-secularism position, will run as an independent in the expected upcoming election.
Houda-Pepin has held her seat in the riding of La Pinière on Montreal’s South Shore since 1994.
She said Tuesday that she has always served her riding in a non-partisan manner, saying that her only boss is the Quebec population.
At a news conference at the national assembly, she thanked her constituents for their support during what she called a very difficult period over the past several months.
'Who is Gaétan Barrette in La Pinière?' - Fatima Houda-Pepin
Of her switch from being a Liberal MNA to an independent, Houda-Pepin said, "For me, it doesn't change much in my life."
She quit the Liberal caucus under duress in January after party leader Philippe Couillard told her that her stance on the controversial Quebec secular charter of values was unwelcome in the party.
She will contend against the Liberals' new candidate in La Pinière, Gaétan Barrette.
Not threatened by Barrette
Houda-Pepin said she was not at all threatened by Barrette's attempt to grab a seat in the national assembly, calling him an opportunist who was looking for a "limousine" off the backs of La Pinière's people.
"Who is Gaétan Barrette in La Pinière?" Houda-Pepin asked Tuesday. "How many times has he talked to you about La Pinière?"
Barrette ran under the Coalition Avenir Québec banner in the 2012 election. Party leader François Legault criticized Barrette on Twitter yesterday, saying he would do anything to be the new health minister.
Gaétan Barrette: Prêt à tout pour être ministre de la santé, peu importe le parti, le programme, le chef. Les Québécois jugeront son geste.— François Legault (@francoislegault) March 3, 2014
Houda-Pepin on the defensive
The MNA, who currently sits as an independent in the national assembly, testily answered questions about vote-splitting in La Pinière.
She said it was Couillard who decided to exclude a deeply liberal and deeply federalist person from his party, adding that no one knew for certain what Barrette's true intentions were regarding federalism.
“The only way not to split the vote in my riding is to vote for a true liberal and a true federalist," she said, referring to herself.
She said at the news conference that she would be seeking substantial financing, since the money she fought hard for on the part of the Liberals over the past 20 years will now pay for Barrette's election posters.
She said in French that what people in La Pinière should see when they come across Barrette posters in the coming election campaign, is "authorized by the Liberal Party of Quebec and paid for by Fatima Houda-Pepin."
Houda-Pepin will be in the riding this afternoon to repeat the announcement and meet with local supporters.