Ex-NHL player Georges Laraque taking a shot at politics

Former NHL tough guy Georges Laraque announced Tuesday he is the Green Party's candidate in Bourassa, where a byelection has to be called to replace Liberal MP Denis Coderre.

Deputy Green Party leader taking aim at House of Commons

Former NHL player Georges Laraque fights during a game in December, 2009 when he played for the Montreal Canadiens. He announced Tuesday he is running for a seat in the House of Commons in an upcoming byelection in the riding of Bourassa. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

Former NHLplayer Georges Laraque is taking a shot at federal politics and will try to win a seat in the House of Commons, he announced Tuesday.

The former hockey enforcer said in a statement that he is the Green Party's candidate in Montreal's Bourassa riding. Former Liberal MP Denis Coderre resigned his seat in order to run for Montreal mayor.

"Today is an important day for me. It is the result of many years of community involvement. I would be so proud to be chosen by the people of Bourassa to be their representative," said Laraque.

"We do not know the election date yet, but I want to launch my campaign now and take advantage of the summer to meet people in all of Bourassa’s neighbourhoods. I will need many volunteers. My election depends on the grassroots involvement of citizens: my success will be theirs," he said. 

A former Edmonton Oiler, Pittsburgh Penguin and Montreal Canadien, Laraque racked up 1,126 penalty minutes in an NHL career where he was better known for his left jab than for his wrist shot.

But in recent years he's also become known for his political activism as a vegan, animal-rights crusader and environmentalist.

Laraque was quoted in a recent news report saying he planned to eventually seek a seat in the House of Commons with the Greens. He has been the party's deputy leader since 2010.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said "this is an important day for the Green movement in Quebec" and she described Laraque as someone who "will always speak his mind."

It's not yet known when Prime Minister Stephen Harper will call a byelection for the riding, which is in a diverse north-end area with different economic classes and ethnic groups and which has a large Haitian population.

Laraque, whose parents were born in Haiti, has been involved in humanitarian work there since the Caribbean country was devastated by an earthquake in 2010. The Greens finished a distant fifth in the riding in the last election, with 1.6 per cent of the ballots, less than 500 votes ahead of the Marxist-Leninist party.

With files from The Canadian Press