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Georges Laraque, former Canadien, going into politics

Pittsburgh Penguins right winger Georges Laraque jokes with

Pittsburgh Penguins right winger Georges Laraque jokes with teammates before facing the Colorado Avalanche. (Nov. 1, 2007) Credit: AP

MONTREAL -- Former NHL tough guy Georges Laraque is going into politics.

The 36-year-old Laraque will campaign for a seat from Montreal in Canada's House of Commons, he said Tuesday.

A former Edmonton Oiler, Pittsburgh Penguin and Canadien, Laraque racked up 1,126 penalty minutes from 1997-2010, 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.

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 Bourassa electoral district will require a special vote because its longtime member of Parliament is leaving to run for mayor. It's not yet known when Prime Minister Stephen Harper will call the election for the district, which is in a diverse north-end area with a large Haitian population.

Laraque will represent the Green Party, for which he became a deputy leader in 2010.

The Greens finished a distant fifth in the district in the last election, with 1.6 percent of the ballots, fewer than 500 votes ahead of the Marxist-Leninist party.

At a news conference with Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, Laraque said he would begin campaigning immediately.

"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."

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