Alexandre Taillefer to preside over Quebec Liberals' re-election campaign

Following the recent announcement of several impending departures from the Quebec Liberals, a well-known entrepreneur said Thursday he will preside over their bid for re-election come October.

"Not an easy decision but a necessary one given the importance of what's at stake,'' Alexandre Taillefer wrote on Twitter.

He added in the brief statement he is on board with what he called the "progressive positions'' taken by Premier Philippe Couillard's Liberal government.

The managing partner of XPND Capital will replace former premier Daniel Johnson, who chaired the Liberal election campaign in 2014.

Just a few days ago, Taillefer ruled out seeking election in the Oct. 1 vote, but had hinted he would play a different role.

Couillard told reporters that Taillefer personifies the new Quebec, calling him a positive addition.

"He's part of the new Quebec, he's part of this new society we have in Quebec,'' the premier said. "A young man who has made his own business, who has also been socially very forceful in his points of view.''

XPND Capital is a private equity firm with investments in a variety of companies in the transportation, technology, media and entertainment sectors.

Notably, Taillefer is a major player in the Montreal taxi industry — he created the Téo Taxi service — and also owns L'Actualite magazine.

Opposition parties raised ethics-related questions at the legislature on Thursday about the potential for conflicts-of-interest, given the many hats Taillefer wears, including that of lobbyist.

"How does the government deal with the fact he's the lobbyist for his own companies?,'' wondered Agnes Maltais of the Parti Quebecois.

Asked whether Taillefer should sell his stakes in media companies, Couillard said the question should be posed to the businessman.

Liberals seeking re-election welcomed Taillefer's addition as positive and described him as someone who has Quebec's economic interests at heart.

Taillefer also sits on a number of boards of Montreal institutions and is well known for his time as a "dragon'' on "Dans l'oeil du dragon,'' the French version of the popular "Dragons' Den'' show.

Since his teenage son's suicide in 2015, Taillefer has also been an outspoken advocate for troubled and at-risk kids.

Taillefer's arrival partially counteracts the announcement of a spate of high-profile Liberal departures, including five cabinet ministers and about 10 backbenchers who will not seek re-election.