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Lapierre resigns

[PoliticsWatch updated 10:30 a.m., January 11, 2007]

Former Liberal MP Jean Lapierre.

OTTAWA  —  The federal Liberal caucus continues to shrink. 

Liberal MP Jean Lapierre is resigning from the Liberal caucus before the end of the month the Canadian Press reported Thursday.

The departure of Lapierre, who was former prime minister Paul Martin's Quebec lieutenant, is the second loss for the Liberal caucus in a week. 

Last Friday, MP Wajid Khan defected from the Liberals to join the Conservative caucus.   

Just days after Liberal Leader Stephane Dion won the Liberal leadership convention, Lapierre told reporters that he was considering leaving now that Martin's time as leader had come to an end.  

"I said when I came back to politics that I came with Paul Martin and I was going to go with Paul Martin," Lapierre said at the time. "(After Martin's convention tribute), I feel emotionally and morally relieved of my commitment and now it's for me to decide what I'm going to do." 

Lapierre is leaving politics to return to broadcasting. 

His departure creates a vacancy in the Montreal seat of Outremont, which has been at the centre of debate for Liberals this week, after reports appeared that Justin Trudeau planned to seek the nomination in the riding. 

However, other Liberals are reported to be interested in the riding, including former justice minister Martin Cauchon, who represented the riding before Martin recruited Lapierre to re-enter politics in 2004.  

Lapierre's departure leaves the Liberals at the 100-seat mark in the House of Commons and further solidifies the Tories' ability to survive a confidence vote in the House.  

Lapierre, 50, was first elected to Parliament in 1979 at the age of 23. He served briefly in cabinet as minister of state for youth and fitness for former prime minister John Turner in 1984.  

Regarded as a Quebec nationalist, he backed Martin in the 1990 leadership race against Meech Lake foe Jean Chretien, but left the party after Chretien won the leadership and later helped co-found the Bloc Quebecois. 

He retired from politics in 1993 but returned in 2004 after Martin became prime minister. Lapierre spent two years as Martin's transport minister and Quebec lieutenant and became widely known for his shoot-from-the-hip style of speaking.

Lapierre's time as Martin's Quebec lieutenant turned out to be bitter sweet because of the fallout from the sponsorship scandal which decimated the Liberal party brand in Quebec. 

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