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Hockey tough guy Laraque makes it official: he's now a politician, seeking election

MONTREAL - He was an NHL pugilist. He became an animal-rights-defending vegan environmentalist. Now, in the latest twist in his improbable career path, Georges Laraque is a politician.

The former NHL tough guy confirmed Tuesday that he will vie for a seat soon in the House of Commons.

He announced his plans to campaign for a Montreal seat in a byelection.

At a news conference with Green Party Leader Elizabeth May in Montreal, he said he will begin campaigning immediately for the eventual byelection in Bourassa riding.

That Montreal riding faces a byelection at some point over the coming months because its longtime MP, Liberal Denis Coderre, is leaving to run for mayor.

"While we do not know the election date yet, I want to start campaigning now," Laraque said in a statement.

"We have a lot of work ahead of us and I want to take advantage of the summer to meet you and listen to your concerns. I'll be in Bourassa all summer, and you can already get in touch with me now."

A former Edmonton Oiler, Pittsburgh Penguin and Montreal Canadien, Laraque racked up 1,126 penalty minutes in an NHL career where he was better known for his left jab than for his wrist shot.

But in recent years he's also become known for his political activism as a vegan, animal-rights crusader and environmentalist.

He became deputy leader of the Green party in 2010.

Laraque was quoted in a recent news report saying he planned to eventually seek a seat in the House of Commons with the Greens.

It's not yet known when Prime Minister Stephen Harper will call a byelection for the riding, which is in a diverse north-end area with different economic classes and ethnic groups and which has a large Haitian population.

Laraque, whose parents were born in Haiti, has been involved in humanitarian work there since the Caribbean country was devastated by an earthquake in 2010.

The Greens finished a distant fifth in the riding in the last election, with 1.6 per cent of the ballots, less than 500 votes ahead of the Marxist-Leninist party.

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