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Charest foe mulls running in Quebec Liberal Leader’s riding

Former Quebec justice minister Marc Bellemare responds to a question from Quebec Liberal Party lawyer Andre Dugas at the Inquiry Commission into the appointment process for judges Wednesday, September 1, 2010 in Quebec City.

Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press/Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

An old foe of Jean Charest is thinking of challenging the Liberal leader in his own riding.

Marc Bellemare tells Montreal Le Devoir he might run as an Independent in Sherbrooke, which Mr. Charest has represented in the legislature since 1998.

Mr. Bellemare is a former Charest cabinet minister who crossed swords with the premier a few years ago when he made scathing allegations that Liberal party fundraisers influenced the selection of judges.

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The two men sued each other over the issue before eventually deciding to drop the legal proceedings.

But his threat has prompted some of Mr. Charest's opponents, and media observers, to warn that such a ploy would actually backfire — and help Mr. Charest get re-elected.

One recent poll suggested Mr. Charest is already in enough trouble in Sherbrooke against Parti Québécois candidate Serge Cardin, a longtime Bloc Québécois MP in the riding. It suggested the premier was 15 percentage points behind.

Another candidate in the race could simply split the anti-Charest vote, some say.

Mr. Bellemare says he might not run if he is convinced Cardin can beat Mr. Charest.

He has until Saturday afternoon to confirm his candidacy.

Mr. Bellemare resigned in 2004 after the Quebec Liberals failed to make good on an election promise to kill the province's no-fault insurance law — something he had passionately lobbied Quebec governments for since 1994.

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