POLITICS

Longtime Quebec Liberal who predicted party's demise at polls to retire

02/28/2014 04:59 EST | Updated 04/30/2014 05:59 EDT
MONTREAL - A longtime Liberal member of the provincial legislature who recently predicted his own party's defeat in the next election before quickly backtracking is retiring from politics.

Henri-Francois Gautrin says he is leaving on his own terms with an election call imminent, insisting he wasn't pushed out by the party following the gaffe.

Gautrin recently told The Canadian Press he expected the Parti Quebecois to win the next election and he even discussed certain ridings that could fall to the PQ.

He quickly backtracked and said a Liberal victory was assured.

The embarrassing prediction came one day before Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard's first day on the job at the legislature after his victory in a byelection.

The 70-year-old Gautrin downplayed the incident and said the media blew it out of proportion.

He says he was planning to leave politics, even though he'd said recently he'd hope to run again in Verdun, the riding he has represented since 1989.

Gautrin says he has been a Liberal for 40 years and will continue to support the party as well as the candidate who succeeds him.