Ex-NHLer Georges Laraque says top priority now is 'to clear my name'
Published Friday, October 18, 2013 8:26AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, October 18, 2013 10:04PM EDT
A day after the former NHL star turned deputy leader of the federal Green Party said he's stepping aside to fight fraud charges, Georges Laraque says his top priority now is clearing his name.
At a press conference in Montreal on Friday morning, Laraque told reporters he's made the difficult decision to step down from the position of deputy leader and put his federal byelection campaign on hold while he fights the charges.
"It's important to run the campaign when you're clear of any charges," Laraque said.
"When you set a standard like this, you demand the same for all the parties that are running and I think that's fair. And that's why I think it's more important right now to clear my name, and after that when I go see people, people will know that I did the right thing at that time."
Laraque, who had previously said he would contest the upcoming byelection in the Montreal-area riding of Bourassa despite facing criminal charges, indicated Friday he still hopes to get back in the race.
"When I've made decisions like this, then it's easier for them to trust you," he said of voters.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, who flew from British Columbia to stand at Laraque's side, said she remains confident of his innocence. But in light of the party's high ethical standards, she said the ex-NHLer made the right decision.
The charges against Laraque stem from a dispute with a co-founder of the Super-Glide synthetic ice company, engineer Marc Filion. The two men started the company together in 2009.
On Wednesday, Laraque said in an interview that the charges are related to two transactions totalling $120,000.
Last May, police raided Laraque's home in search of documents related to Super-Glide synthetic ice, media reported.
Laraque, a Montreal native, retired from the NHL in 2010 after a 13-year career. He is scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 19.
With files from The Canadian Press