Ministers at fundraising cocktails | Marc Tanguay contradicts Denis Coderre

(Quebec) Interim Liberal leader Marc Tanguay contradicts PLQ leadership candidate Denis Coderre on the controversial issue of ministers’ participation in party fundraising cocktails.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Mr. Coderre suggested that if he formed the next government, his ministers could take part in fundraising cocktails and citizens could come and talk to them about their issues to raise awareness.

He was called upon to speak out because of the controversy that is plaguing the Coalition Avenir Québec, accused by the opposition of dangling access to ministers in exchange for a $100 donation to the party’s fund at a cocktail party.

For Mr. Coderre, a fundraising cocktail was an “exceptional platform” for ministers.

At a press scrum on Tuesday, Mr. Tanguay retorted that a fundraising cocktail is not the place for a citizen to inform a minister or make him aware of issues.

“This is not the place for that,” argued Mr. Tanguay in a press scrum in parliament on Tuesday.

“You donate $100 to a political party because you support its ideas, because you are federalist, you are liberal, or because you are independent, with the three other parties. So, you support a political party for its ideas and you make the donation because you want to participate in the party’s ability to project its ideas and then participate in the democratic debate. »

If we meet a minister in a partisan activity to promote an issue or a project, it is lobbying and we are subject to the law, Mr. Tanguay insisted, so we must register in the register of lobbyists.

“A minister who is in a fundraising activity then, woof! he begins to be talked about a file. He must, proactively, say: I’m stopping you, my good friend, this is not the place, this is not the time to talk about this, I invite you to respect the Lobbying Act then, the if necessary, to make an appointment with me. »

Mr. Coderre argued that ministers should continue to be able to take part in party financing cocktails, as the law allows. Any citizen has the right to contribute up to $100 per year to a political party, but not to obtain compensation.


Denis Coderre

According to Mr. Coderre, it is normal for people holding public office such as elected officials to be in contact with citizens, business people or other elected officials who will discuss with them issues that concern them or issues that need to be advanced. .

“I am not a civil servant, if I am elected, I am there to represent a population, so if we have functions, people come to talk to us, not just about the Canadian and the victory of the day before, or the expansion of the National Baseball League, they come to talk to us about their issues and raise our awareness,” he pleaded.

What’s more, according to him, an elected official makes a better decision if he is better informed by the interested people, the stakeholders.

“Knowledge is power. By knowing one thing, you will take into consideration what people tell you. (A fundraising activity), it’s an extraordinary plateau. »

Last week, the Liberal Party had already suggested that if it formed the next government, it would involve ministers in training financing activities, but the candidates or potential candidates could very well take another position and put into play the idea.

The Parti Québécois announced that if it formed the next government, its ministers would not participate in fundraising activities, while the CAQ, following the controversy, put an end to collecting donations from citizens.

The current legislative framework is sufficient to regulate the participation of ministers in activities, there is no need to tighten it, assured Mr. Tanguay, it is the method of solicitation and the compensation that is being dangled that causes the problem, according to him.

“The presence of a minister at a fundraising activity, however, raises the risk that an exchange occurring within the framework of the activity could result in a decision having the appearance of constituting an advantage provided in exchange for a contribution,” had however writes Élections Québec to La Presse Canadienne in an email responding to a series of questions on party financing.

The CAQ has been in turmoil since January 23 due to controversies over its fundraising methods.

The Canadian Press revealed messages from CAQ MPs who invited municipal elected officials to party fundraising cocktails, suggesting that this would be an opportunity to advance issues.

Two CAQ elected officials, Sylvain Lévesque and Louis-Charles Thouin, are the target of an investigation by the Ethics Commissioner of the National Assembly.

The Canadian Press also learned that nearly half of the mayors, or 503 out of 1,138, have contributed to financing the CAQ since the 2021 municipal elections, for a total of nearly $100,000.

François Legault subsequently announced that his party was going to renounce popular financing, that is to say contributions from individuals: the CAQ is thus giving up on around 1 million collected in donations per year.

Le Soleil had also revealed that the Minister of Transport, Geneviève Guilbault, and her colleague at the Economy, Pierre Fitzgibbon, were by far the most popular ministers invited to CAQ fundraising cocktails: 16 participations in 16 months. Incidentally, these are two ministries which award a lot of subsidies, the PQ then underlined.

Québec solidaire accused the CAQ of having set up a financing “stratagem,” while the Parti Québécois cited a “systemic” financing method.

On Tuesday, the CAQ leader assured in the House that “there has never been a directive given to encourage people to come to cocktails because there are ministers”.

Mr. Coderre is expected to announce in June whether he is entering the race for leadership of the Liberal Party.

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