A former Quebec justice minister says he may run in Jean Charest's home riding to try and defeat the Liberal leader, but the Parti Québécois's candidate says he needs no assistance unseating the premier.
Onetime attorney general Marc Bellemare said he is considering entering the election race as an Independent in Sherbrooke, the riding Charest has held for 14 years.
Bellemare said Monday his aim would be to beat Charest and contribute to the demise of the Liberal government, though he said he is aware his candidacy may split the opposition vote and help re-elect Charest.
The PQ hopeful in Sherbrooke, Serge Cardin, said he's concerned about just that.
"I don't really need Mr. Bellemare, even with all the respect I have for him. I know he's man of convictions, but dividing or diluting the vote would allow Jean Charest to win again in Sherbrooke," Cardin said.
Charest has come close to losing his provincial seat before. He won by a margin of 3.7 per cent in the 2007 election, and held on by less than eight points in 2003 and 2008.
As a Bloc Québécois MP, Cardin represented Sherbrooke in Parliament for 13 years before losing his seat to the NDP's Orange Wave in last year's federal election. He first won the riding in a 1998 byelection, replacing Charest after he resigned from the Commons to become Quebec Liberal leader.
Bellemare was elected in the Quebec City riding of Vanier in 2003 as a Liberal. He was minister of justice from April 2003 to April 2004 before leaving the provincial Liberal Party.
If Bellemare does decide to run in the election, his candidacy papers must be submitted to Quebec's elections authority by Saturday.
During the Bastarache Commission launched by Charest, Bellemare testified concerning allegations of partisan interference in the selection of the province's judges.
Bellemare alleged that while serving as justice minister, he was pressured to name certain judges to the bench based on the recommendations of major Liberal Party fundraisers.