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Jean Charest quits politics

Quebec Liberal premier lost own seat in last night's election

Jean Charest has decided to put an end to a stormy 28-year political career, including the last nine as Quebec premier.

Charest, a staunch federalist who served as federal Progressive Conservative leader before becoming Quebec Liberal leader in 1998, spent a good part of his announcement Wednesday praising Canada.

”We are all blessed to have been born in this country,” Charest told reporters at the national assembly.

But the longtime premier also hailed Quebecers, who elected him premier in 2003, 2007 and 2008.

”We are a people of dreamers but also builders,” he said.

Charest’s resignation will take effect in a few days when the Parti Quebecois officially takes power after its minority victory on Tuesday.

Charest, 54, made the announcement in Quebec City, a day after losing his own seat in the provincial election and seeing his party form the official Opposition.

Charest came to the Liberals in 1998 from the federal Progessive Conservatives.

He was first elected as an MP in Brian Mulroney’s Conservative wave in 1984. He became the youngest cabinet minister in 1986 at the age of 28.

Including the 1984 victory, Charest won eight consecutive elections in Sherbrooke — four federal and four provincial — before losing Tuesday.

Charest prided himself during his three mandates as premier as a sound economic manager, particularly during the 2008 economic crisis that rocked the world.

Click here to read Paul Wells on what’s next for Charest.

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