Enrico Ciccone confirmed as Liberals' Marquette candidate amid criticism

The Quebec Liberals made it official Thursday, confirming former NHL tough guy Enrico Ciccone would be the party's standard-bearer in the West Island riding of Marquette for the upcoming Oct. 1 election.

Premier Philippe Couillard was in Lachine to make the announcement, and continued to defend his decision to dump François Ouimet, who has held the riding for the Liberals since 1994.

Members of the Liberals' Marquette riding association quit en masse in protest of the decision to do away with Ouimet, who held an emotional news conference in Quebec City on Wednesday.

"I saw Francois's sorrow. I share it. It will be a painful scar for me too. I hate doing these things. But I have to look forward for the greater benefit and the greater benefit for the future of our team, and again I'm so enthusiastic like Enrico, coming forward to join politics, to get involved,' Couillard said.

Ciccone himself, meanwhile, insists nothing was handed to him.

"Everything I have done in life has always been difficult. Nothing has ever been given to me," said Ciccone. "I understand that being in politics is just the same [as being in the NHL], it's just that the rules are maybe a little different.

"I'm not surprised, I'm really not surprised in the way things happen. But at the same time I am used to it. I've had it happen to me."

Ciccone insists he will have to work hard to gain people's trust, but plans to do so "by being there, by listening, by being very on the floor with them, try to go through hardship with them."

The 48-year-old Ciccone played 11 seasons in the NHL, including a three-game spell with the Canadiens in 2000, before becoming a hockey analyst on radio and TV.