Chevrette slips out the back door before shuffle (March 01, 2002)

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QUEBEC CITY, Que. – Quebec’s former Minister of Public Safety, Serge Menard, has been named to the transport post vacated by Guy Chevrette who resigned one day ahead of the Jan. 30 cabinet shuffle.

Chevrette, Natural Resources Minister Jacques Brassard and a third much-more junior minister, science and technology boss David Cliche all announced they would leave politics yesterday.

Menard, who represents Laval-des-Rapides, is a lawyer who has been both a prosecutor and a criminal lawyer, in addition to being a one-time law professor. He previously served the Parti Quebecois as the Public Safety Minister.

Chevrette, 62, and Brassard, 61, shocked the province when they announced they were quitting politics immediately. Both were disappointed by what they say is a deliberate effort to encourage them to step aside to make way for a younger cabinet.

Later in the day a third minister quit after reportedly being excluded from the cabinet. Cliche, who held a junior portfolio as minister responsible for the information highway, submitted his resignation, effective immediately.

Chevrette, who was first elected in 1976, was also minister responsible for native affairs. He says the warning bells for this move were sounding last December, when he interpreted PQ vice-president Marie Malavoy’s call for a more youthful cabinet as a signal for Landry to ‘encourage’ his veteran ministers to leave. This was a fine thank-you for a minister who rescued the party from self-destruction in 1987. Chevrette played a key role in avoiding a major split after a divisive internal debate concluded with the resignation of former PQ leader Pierre-Marc Johnson.

Chevrette says he isn’t bitter, although he is upset with the people in Landry’s entourage who wanted him to quit after a number of recent controversial remarks. He was also angry Landry, who turns 65 in March, has sent a clear message that people over 60 bring nothing of value to the party.

“You can be 60 and still be full of ideas and have plenty of energy to tackle a bunch of issues,” slams Chevrette. “Age isn’t what determines whether you are ready to meet a challenge, whether you have the capacity to meet that challenge.”

The resignations fulfill Landry’s aspiration of finally putting his stamp on a government he took over from Lucien Bouchard less than a year ago.

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