Former health minister Philippe Couillard seeking Quebec Liberal leadership

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MONTREAL - Former health minister Philippe Couillard is the third person to enter the race to succeed Jean Charest as Quebec Liberal leader.

Couillard is considered the front-runner in a contest that so far also features ex-cabinet ministers Raymond Bachand and Pierre Moreau.

The 55-year-old Couillard held the health portfolio between 2003 and 2008.

Couillard made the announcement at a news conference in Montreal this morning.

He told The Canadian Press in a recent interview he wants the Liberals to better defend Quebecers on key identity issues such as language and the province's relationship with Ottawa.

Couillard was criticized in some quarters after his political retirement for negotiating the terms of his private-sector employment while he was still a cabinet minister.

He insists he did nothing wrong and that the controversy won't hurt him in the leadership campaign.

Organizations: Canadian Press

Geographic location: MONTREAL, Ottawa

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