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Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is flanked by MPs Marc Garneau and Pablo Rodriguez as he speaks with reporters on Oct. 7, 2009, after a caucus meeting on Parliament Hill. (CHRIS WATTIE)
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is flanked by MPs Marc Garneau and Pablo Rodriguez as he speaks with reporters on Oct. 7, 2009, after a caucus meeting on Parliament Hill. (CHRIS WATTIE)

Ignatieff taps Garneau as Quebec 'representative' Add to ...

Canada's first man in space, Marc Garneau, is now Michael Ignatieff's second Quebec lieutenant.

Mr. Garneau, 60, the rookie Liberal MP from Montreal's Westmount who this week celebrated his 25th anniversary of going up in space, takes over the role of the Quebec chief from Denis Coderre.

Internally, however, Mr. Garneau is being referred to now as the "Quebec representative," according to Liberal spokesman Michael O'Shaughnessy. "Lieutenant is no longer used," he said.

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Mr. Coderre resigned in a huff last week after an imbroglio over who should run in another Montreal riding, Outremont. His candidate recommendation was overturned and he quit, saying he felt he no longer had the moral authority to continue as Quebec lieutenant.

He went even farther, however, blaming the Toronto crowd of advisers around the Liberal Leader for interfering in Quebec politics.

This was a loss to Mr. Ignatieff as Mr. Coderre had been a keen supporter of his 2006 leadership bid, bringing a slew of Quebec delegates with him. He is known to be hard worker and effective organizer in Quebec.

Since Mr. Coderre's resignation, Mr. Ignatieff has been trying to shore up the team in Quebec. He has been into the province twice in the last few days.

He originally said there would be no Quebec lieutenant but announced his change of plans while addressing the provincial wing of the party at its convention last Sunday.

The Liberal Party's constitution requires a "leader's representative" in Quebec; Mr. Ignatieff said he had initially overlooked that detail.

Mr. Garneau, meanwhile, has been serving as the chair of the Quebec caucus. He has been front and centre defending the team in Quebec since the drama around Mr. Coderre's resignation.

However, the new Quebec chieftain is new to politics - he was first elected in 2008 - and was out of the province for years when he was an astronaut.

Another Montreal area MP, Pablo Rodriguez, had also been rumoured as a possible successor to Mr. Coderre. He was first elected in 2004 and had been president of the Quebec wing.

In accepting his new position, Mr. Garneau resigned as chair of the Quebec caucus and has been replaced by Mr. Rodriguez.

Also Wednesday, Mr. Ignatieff announced that the Quebec wing of the party will be appointing a chief organizer for the province. That person is to be announced soon.

He did not take questions from reporters.

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