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Former Quebec Premier Jean Charest speaks during a round table discussion on international economic issues in Montreal, on Oct. 18, 2016.Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

An anti-corruption probe into the fundraising activities of the Quebec Liberal Party while Jean Charest was leader and premier has ended without charges being laid, as Mr. Charest considers a bid for the leadership of the federal Conservative party.

On Monday, the province’s Unité permanente anticorruption, also known as UPAC, announced that it was terminating the investigation after considering a legal opinion that it had sought from the province’s director of criminal and penal prosecutions.

In 2014, UPAC began looking into allegations of illegal fundraising by the Quebec Liberals between 2001 and 2012. Mr. Charest, now 63, became party leader in 1998, and premier in 2003 – a position he held until 2012. He has denied any wrongdoing, and no specific allegations have been made against him in connection with the probe.

A statement from the director of criminal and penal prosecutions ruled out elaborating on the legal opinion that led to Monday’s announcement. The opinion was rendered by a review committee that consisted of four prosecutors and a retired judge of the Court of Appeal.

Mr. Charest said in a statement that he welcomed UPAC’s decision.

“The investigation has weighed very heavily in my personal life, the life of my family, my political colleagues and my colleagues at work,” he said.

“The pursuit of this investigation made no sense and has been for me and my family an injustice that lasted for almost eight years.”

The former premier added that he and his family thank the advisers, colleagues and friends “who never ceased to support us.”

The statement said he would make no further comments on the matter.

Mr. Charest entered federal politics in 1984, when he was elected as a Progressive Conservative MP for the Quebec riding of Sherbrooke. He was later a cabinet minister under prime ministers Brian Mulroney and Kim Campbell.

He has yet to commit publicly to seeking the federal Conservative party leadership, but he is quietly working to get a sense of the party from a number of high-profile members.

On Wednesday, Mr. Charest is scheduled to meet with Conservative senators and MPs in Ottawa, in response to a request from some Tories for an opportunity to hear him out in the run-up to the leadership race.

The event is being hosted by MPs Alain Rayes, of Quebec, and Rick Perkins, of Nova Scotia. Both were among the signatories of an open letter, published last week, which called for Mr. Charest to enter the race.

The Globe and Mail reported last week that Mr. Charest is inclined to seek the leadership, but is waiting to see the rules of the race before he makes a final decision.

Details of the Conservative leadership race, including the timing of a convention, are now being developed by a 21-member leadership election organizing committee. When an organizing committee was last assembled in 2019, it took about a month to draft the rules.

Gerard Deltell, who was until recently the Conservative House Leader, has declared his support for Mr. Charest, saying the former premier has the political skills to defeat the governing Liberals in Ottawa. Mr. Deltell was the third Quebec MP to offer support to Mr. Charest.

The Conservatives currently have 10 of 75 federal seats in the province.

Ottawa-area MP Pierre Poilievre, the Conservative Party’s former finance critic, is so far the only declared candidate in the leadership race, which began when the Conservative caucus voted 73 to 45 on Feb. 2 to remove Erin O’Toole as leader. Candice Bergen is the party’s interim leader.

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, a former Ontario MP and one-time leader of the province’s Progressive Conservatives, is also considering a run.

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