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Sleepy politician breaks silence on question period siesta in Quebec

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QUEBEC - From rising political star to dozing denizen of parliament's sleepy suburbs — it's been a grueling few months for Daniel Breton.

The star recruit for the Parti Quebecois had been catapulted from green activist into the prestigious role of provincial environment minister last fall.

But he was swiftly demoted to the backbenches after some personal controversies. Now he's being forced to explain his struggles to stay awake in the legislature.

Breton was caught on camera repeatedly dozing off during question period this week. Asked about it, he said Wednesday that he could be suffering from a sleeping disorder.

"Because I've been having problems sleeping, on Feb. 4 I asked a doctor to conduct some tests for sleep apnea and they will take place on March 7," Breton said.

"It's as simple as that."

Sleep apnea causes breathing interruptions that wake people up overnight.

The longtime environmental activist suffered a series of political headaches after being named to the environment portfolio following the PQ's Sept. 4 election win.

Less than three months later, he was forced to quit.

There was an initial controversy over his alleged interference in the workings of an ostensibly arm's-length environmental review board.

But what ultimately forced him out were media reports that he had been convicted of employment-insurance fraud, was convicted of driving with a suspended licence, and had twice been evicted for not paying his rent.

His question period siesta occurred while a cabinet minister, standing right in front of him, faced intense questioning about a high-profile summit on university tuition.

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