Stéphane Bédard, former PQ opposition leader, quits politics

Stéphane Bédard, the Parti Québécois MNA for Chicoutimi, is leaving politics after 17 years as a PQ MNA.

Leaves politics after being shuffled out of parliamentary leader post

Stéphane Bédard, MNA for Chicoutimi, has announced that he will leave politics after almost 17 years in office. (CBC)

Stéphane Bédard, the Parti Québécois MNA for Chicoutimi since 1998, is leaving politics. 

Bédard made the announcement at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

"I won't deny that the last four years have been grueling and exhausting," he said.

Bédard will receive a $151,000 departure bonus.

Bédard served as interim PQ leader and leader of the opposition for 13 months, until the election of Pierre Karl Péladeau as head of the PQ on May 17.

Bédard, 47, then served as PQ parliamentary leader until Sept. 4, when he was replaced by Bernard Drainville. 

​There was speculation that Bédard was unhappy that PQ leader Pierre Karl Péladeau shifted him out of the post.

Bédard, who is a lawyer, was elected six times and served in the Pauline Marois cabinet as minister responsible for Saguenay−Lac-Saint-Jean. He said that he plans to return to his law career.

Péladeau thanked Bédard for his past support and spoke of the "deep emotion" felt by caucus members upon hearing of their colleague's departure. 

 Coalition Avenir Québec leader François Legault said that the PQ is losing an important member of its team and that Bédard's departure is another sign of the declining popularity of the sovereignty option. 

with files from Canadian Press