Veronique Hivon, considered favourite for PQ leader, says she won't run

QUEBEC — One of the most popular advocates for Quebec sovereignty and the woman considered the favourite to take over the embattled Parti Quebecois has announced she will not run for leader.

Veronique Hivon told reporters today her family has never needed her more since she entered politics, and passing up a run for PQ leader was the only decision she could make given her family circumstances.

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Hivon was first elected for the PQ in 2008 and represents the riding of Joliette, about 70 kilometres northeast of Montreal.

She earned respect from members of all parties for her work on Quebec's assisted dying legislation, the first of its kind in Canada. She introduced the bill in 2013 while in government with the PQ and the Liberals took up much of her work when they came to power a year later. The legislation was adopted in 2014.

Hivon ran for PQ leader in 2016 but withdrew for health reasons. The winner, Jean-Francois Lisee, recognized Hivon's popularity and named her deputy leader ahead of the 2018 provincial election.

Both Lisee and Hivon's faces were featured on PQ campaign material and on the leader's bus, but her star power wasn't enough to save the struggling party from finishing third with just 10 seats.

The PQ quickly fell to fourth after its youngest member, Catherine Fournier, quit to sit as an independent in March 2019. Fournier said the PQ had become irrelevant.

Hivon remains a member of the legislature for Joliette. The PQ has not yet set a date for its leadership campaign. Hivon says it won't take place before 2020.

Hivon says the party and its members deserve someone who can offer the level of commitment necessary to rebuild the party. She told reporters the PQ can put itself back together "one brick at a time." But given her family situation, she can't be the one to lead that process.

"It happens in life, that we go through personal and family challenges, and I think we don't have the choice but to live them," Hivon said.

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