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Former Que. ag minister to head assembly

Members of Quebec’s legislative assembly on Tuesday elected Liberal MNA Yvon Vallieres, a former provincial agriculture, food and fisheries minister, as the assembly’s new president.

Vallieres, a teacher and school counselor by profession, is the MNA for Richmond, a south-shore riding north of Sherbrooke, and has represented the riding for over 30 years (1973-76, 1981-present).

As president of the assembly, Vallieres replaces Parti Quebecois MNA Francois Gendron, who had just held the post since October 2008. The president is responsible for oversight of parliamentary business, direction of the assembly’s services and chairing the assembly’s delegations to other provinces’ and countries’ governments.

Vallieres’s political resume has a long list of ag-related duties dating back to 1984 as a member, and later as chairman (1984-85, 1994-98), of the assembly’s agriculture, fisheries and food committee.

He later served as fisheries minister (1990-94) and as the Liberals’ opposition ag critic (1994-96, 1999-2000) before being named Premier Jean Charest’s minister of agriculture, fisheries and food (2005-07).

After the 2007 election Vallieres was chair of the minority Liberal government’s caucus, then was re-elected when the Liberals regained their majority in the Dec. 8, 2008 election.

The legislature also elected Liberal MNA Fatima Houda-Pepin, another former ag committee chair (2003-07), as the assembly’s first vice-president. Liberal MNA Jacques Chagnon of Montrea is second vice-president, while Gendron, the PQ MNA and former president, was elected third vice-president.

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