Stéphane Le Bouyonnec has stepped down as the president of the Coalition Avenir Québec and withdrawn his candidacy for the riding of La Prairie on the sixth day of the provincial election campaign.
The politician publicly posted a long message suddenly on his Facebook page late Tuesday afternoon, describing his resignation as a “difficult decision.”
He said he wants to protect the gains made by the centre-right party, which has so far led in the polls to form the next provincial government.
“However, I’m not giving up and I will continue to serve our cause,” he said.
Le Bouyonnec, 56, was first elected in the 2012 provincial election in the riding of La Prairie. After he lost his seat when the Quebec Liberals swept a majority in 2014, he became president of the CAQ.
In June, Le Bouyonnec was forced to resign as head of a company that had ties to a firm that was charging predatory loan rates in Ontario. Charging exorbitant rates is illegal in Quebec.
He decided at the time to stay on with the CAQ and pursue his candidacy in the Oct. 1 provincial election.
He was roundly criticized by the Quebec Liberals and the Parti Québécois, which both said the party president showed poor judgment.
In his resignation letter, Le Bouyonnec said he made his decision with the best interests of the party in mind.
“It is out of the question for me to let our political opponents use my professional background to make dubious conflations and thus threaten the chances of our Coalition,” he said.
Quebecers head to the polls on Oct. 1.
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— With files from Global’s Raquel Fletcher and The Canadian Press