Long-time Bloc Québécois MP Réal Ménard — the second MP to come out — plans to resign his seat in the House of Commons on Thursday, according to La Presse.
Ménard has held the Montreal riding of Hochelaga (formerly Hochelaga – Maisonneuve) since the Bloc first came into federal politics in 1993, and he has won his seat in every election since.
“What I’ve done since 1994 is to be openly gay, to be in my caucus as I am,” Ménard told Xtra.ca last month in a video interview on International Day Against Homophobia. “I think my caucus better understands the realities of homosexuals.” Ménard also made sure that his colleagues knew his partner.
In resigning his federal seat, Ménard plans to run in the November Montreal city council election on controversial mayoral candidate Louise Harel’s slate. Harel is a former Parti Québécois cabinet minister whose English skills are said to be basic, which is creating tension with the city’s Anglophone community.
Over his time in Parliament, Ménard has served in a variety of critic portfolios, as well as maintaining critic responsibility for the Montreal region. Much of his time was spent in the health portfolio, but since March 2006 he has served as the party’s justice critic.
Recently, Ménard had been vocal in speaking out the Conservative’s tough-on-crime agenda. He blasted a clause in Bill C-31 that would allow police to photograph and fingerprint people before they had been charged with a crime. He called the provisions “unacceptable.”
A week ago, Ménard gave Xtra.ca no indication that he was planning to resign, saying that his summer plans involved working in his riding and taking a trip to Paris at the end of July with his boyfriend.
“I think it’s certainly a sacrifice being away from loved ones and family,” says gay Liberal MP Scott Brison. “Réal has worked hard over the years, and has served and been vigorous in his defence of equality.”
Brison says that despite their “vigorous differences in philosophy — including his view of Canada and mine,” that he feels they shared a sense of pride in social progress.