Quebec premier replaces minister less than three months after election

MONTREAL — Quebec Premier Francois Legault replaced his environment minister on Tuesday, citing her difficulty communicating with journalists.

MarieChantal Chasse, named to the environment file when the Coalition Avenir Quebec cabinet was sworn in less than three months go, will be replaced by Benoit Charette.

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Legault told reporters in Quebec City he met with Chasse Monday, and they both agreed she should step down. When asked if he had made an error in naming her in the first place, Legault said his minister had more trouble than others articulating government policies.

"It was harder for her," Legault said. "I think that MarieChantal was starting to be well-versed in her files. She is an engineer, a businesswoman. But the communication part with journalists, it was difficult."

Chasse's press conferences were highly criticized on social media because she at times didn't directly answer questions. She was also criticized by pundits for appearing uninformed in her exchanges with reporters and during question period.

Her replacement, Charette, was first elected with the Parti Quebecois in 2008 and changed parties to run unsuccessfully with the Coalition in 2012. He won his seat with the Coalition in 2014 and was re-elected in October.

With Chasse's departure, Legault's cabinet no longer has parity between men and women, which was an election promise. The opposition Liberals said it was "unfortunate" Legault named a man to the file. Legault responded that "one cannot be too rigid."

Legault said he chose the legislative member with the best skills to respond to the needs of the Environment Department.

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