Quebec’s new minority Parti Quebecois government has turned to one of the party’s veteran MNAs and cabinet ministers as its new minister of agriculture, fisheries and food.
Francois Gendron, the MNA for Abitibi-Ouest, was also named Wednesday as the province’s deputy premier and as minister responsible for the Abitibi-Temiscamingue region.
As both ag minister and regional minister, Gendron replaces the Liberals’ Pierre Corbeil, who lost his seat in Abitibi-Est in the Sept. 4 election.
"As deputy premier, you will be our sage," Premier Pauline Marois said Wednesday in announcing Gendron’s appointment, adding that the party is relying on his experience as "dean" of the Quebec assembly.
Gendron’s "primary mandate will be to revise programs to better support our farmers and fishers," Marois said, and his second mandate will be to develop and implement a "food sovereignty" policy for the province, as outlined in the PQ platform.
Gendron, a schoolteacher and counsellor by profession, served as a municipal councilor (1973-76) in the northwestern Quebec township of La Sarre, where his main constituency office remains. La Sarre is about 85 km north of Rouyn-Noranda.
Gendron came to provincial politics when Rene Levesque’s PQ first swept to government in 1976, and has held Abitibi-Ouest for the party in every election since.
The new ag minister’s resume in PQ cabinets and shadow cabinets includes, among others, stints as education minister (1984-85), deputy opposition house leader (1985-87, 1989-96), opposition house leader (1987-89), deputy government house leader (1994-96), natural resources minister (1994-96, 2002-03), rural affairs and forestry minister (2002) and second-opposition house leader (2007-08) .
Gendron was also named to a brief stint as president of the Quebec assembly (2008-09), a post for which he had topped a list of candidates that included former PQ ag minister and ag critic Maxime Arseneau.
Other appointments noteworthy to the ag sector in Marois’ new cabinet include Ste. Marie-St. Jacques MNA Daniel Breton as minister for the environment and sustainable development; Rosemont MNA Jean-Francois Lisee as minister for international relations and external trade; Jonquiere MNA Sylvain Gaudreault as minister of transport and municipal affairs; and Vachon MNA Martine Ouellet as natural resources minister.
Marois’ other notable appointments include former PQ ag critic Sylvain Page, the MNA for Labelle, as parliamentary deputy for education, and Elizabeth Larouche, who took the Abitibi-Est riding from Corbeil, as aboriginal affairs minister.