David Birnbaum becomes 9th Liberal MNA to announce exit from politics
Birnbaum was first elected as MNA in 2014 with 92 per cent of the vote
With less than six months to go before the next provincial election, the Official Opposition at Quebec's National Assembly has lost another veteran politician.
David Birnbaum, the MNA for the D'Arcy-McGee riding — which is mainly comprised of the municipalities of Hampstead and Côte Saint-Luc on the Montreal island — will not be running for re-election this fall.
He was first elected in 2014, winning by a landslide with 92 per cent of the vote.
Birnbaum is now the ninth Liberal MNA to announce that this current mandate will be their last.
Longtime Liberals Gaétan Barrette, Hélène David, Lise Thériault, Monique Sauvé, Jean Rousselle, Christine St-Pierre, Francine Charbonneau, and Nicole Ménard are the other MNAs who have announced they won't be running again.
On Monday, Birnbaum said he'll be leaving politics with "serenity" and pride over what he has accomplished. He described his time as MNA as "deeply rewarding, deeply challenging."
The 66-year-old said he had been thinking of retiring for more than a year, and made his decision "about four, five months ago."
His announcement comes on the heels of his party facing criticism from English CEGEP administrators for proposing an amendment to the Coalition Avenir Québec's government proposed Bill 96, which aims to modify Quebec's language charter.
The Liberals proposed a requirement that all students at English CEGEPS take three courses taught in French. The party walked back support for its own idea, but only after it was unanimously adopted by the committee studying the bill.
Birnbaum, who spent a decade as the executive director of the Quebec English School Boards Association before being elected, was adamant that the backlash the party faced over the amendment to Bill 96 did not play a role in his decision to retire from politics.
"I've been at the heart of language discussions over the past 35 years," he said.
"Do I have some bruises to show for those 35 years? Sure. Are there some new ones over the past few months? Yeah. Nowhere, nowhere did this enter into my decision."
The party's leader Dominique Anglade, thanked all of them for their contributions. She also dismissed the notion that their exits are symptoms of a reeling political party.
"Back in September, I met with my team, making sure I knew who was staying and who was leaving. These are things that were expected," Anglade said.
"But at the end of the day, it's also an opportunity to renew the party."
The Liberals currently hold 27 seats at the National Assembly, a steep drop from the 68 seats the party held heading into the 2018 elections
With files from Cathy Senay