January 8, 2019 5:38 pm
Updated: January 8, 2019 9:21 pm

Quebec Premier François Legault ousts and quickly replaces environment minister

WATCH: Quebec Premier François Legault has turfed MarieChantal Chassé as his environment minister. Benoit Charette will replace her.

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MarieChantal Chassé has been turfed as environment minister from the Coalition Avenir Québec cabinet.

Quebec Premier François Legault made the announcement late Tuesday afternoon on short notice, saying Chassé will be replaced by MNA Benoit Charette.

READ MORE: Quebecers prefer to import oil from Western Canada, according to Leger poll

Legault told reporters he met with Chassé earlier this week and they came to the decision together.

He said he gave a number of political rookies high-profile cabinet positions but that it was difficult for Chassé, especially when it came to communicating with the media.

“I think we saw it in scrums with journalists,” he said.

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Chassé’s press conferences were highly criticized on social media because she at times didn’t directly answer questions. She was also criticized by pundits for appearing uninformed in her exchanges with reporters and during question period.

Legault, however, added that it doesn’t mean Chassé can’t return to the CAQ’s cabinet in the future.

“Nothing is off the table for MarieChantal,” he said.

Chassé, who is new to politics, was first elected when the CAQ swept a majority victory on Oct. 1. She will stay on as an MNA for Châteauguay.

Quebec’s newly appointed environment minister, Charette, first joined the political sphere in 2008 when he was elected under the Parti Québécois banner. He then unsuccessfully ran for the CAQ in 2012, but was re-elected in 2014 and then again in 2018.

No longer a gender-balanced cabinet

In October, Legault named 13 men and 13 women to his new government’s cabinet. During the election campaign, he promised to have a cabinet where half of the members would be women.

With Chassé’s departure, Legault no longer holds a gender-balanced cabinet.

He was quick to defend the shuffle, saying he chose who he believes is the best person for the task.

READ MORE: Quebec elects record number of women — but will there be a gender-balanced cabinet?

“We can’t be rigid,” Legault said. “There may be an occasion where we have 14 women and 12 men.”

Quebec Liberal MNA and former minister for status of women Hélène David was quick to criticize Legault’s decision to replace Chassé with a man.

“Today, he replaces a woman minister with a man while several women are in his caucus,” she said on Twitter. “Pity.”

— With files from The Canadian Press

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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