Two other CAQ deputies are in hot water for their solicitation messages

Two other elected officials from the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) are in embarrassment because of their solicitation messages.

The Canadian Press learned Tuesday that the MP for Orford, Gilles Bélanger, is in hot water, like his colleague from René-Lévesque, Yves Montigny, while two investigations by the Ethics Commissioner are underway. already underway on the financing practices of other members of the Caucus caucus, Sylvain Lévesque and Louis-Charles Thouin.

The Canadian Press revealed Monday that nearly half of Quebec mayors have funded the CAQ since 2021, for a total of nearly $100,000.

The opposition sees it as a “system”, but the CAQ defended itself on Tuesday for having set up a fundraising system which currencies access to its ministers.

Remember that elected officials have the right like any citizen to contribute to the financing of a party, but that it is illegal to pay money into a party fund to obtain a counterpart.

In a message obtained by The Canadian Press Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Bélanger invited the mayors of the MRC of Memphrémagog last November to meet the Minister of Transport, Geneviève Guilbault, in exchange for a contribution of $100.

“Mr Gilles Bélanger will receive for his annual funding the Minister responsible for Transport and Sustainable Mobility, Geneviève Guilbault, at her request I am sending you this invitation, he would be honored (sic) with your presence”, we can read.

“You will have the opportunity to discuss current topics such as connectivity, innovation and artificial intelligence, in a relaxed atmosphere. »

The local municipal official who sent the message to The Canadian Press expressed his “discomfort” at this type of request and indicated that he did not participate in the activity.

In addition, according to a screenshot obtained by Québec solidaire (QS), the MP for René-Lévesque, Yves Montigny, invited an entrepreneur from his region to meet the Minister of Agriculture, André Lamontagne, at a cocktail party in exchange for a contribution of $100 to the party fund.

“I know we haven’t always done what you wanted, but this is a great opportunity to speak to a minister,” we can read.

PQ leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon suspects the CAQ of using a “modus operandi” to collect donations, i.e. dangling access to a decision-maker in exchange for $100.

“Are Quebecers right to be concerned about seeing the CAQ monetizing access to its ministers? » asked MP Vincent Marissal, from Québec solidaire (QS), during the question period.

“The CAQ has set up a solicitation system based on access to its ministers,” he was indignant, provoking the irritation of elected government officials.

“This is not a practice I know of,” assured the leader of the government and Minister of Justice, Simon Jolin-Barrette, in the press scrum, while refusing to answer the question as to why almost half of the Mayors pay funds into the CAQ fund.

“Mr. (François) Legault pleads coincidence, I find that there are starting to be a lot of coincidences”, for his part said with irony the parliamentary leader of QS, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, at a press briefing Tuesday morning.

Shortly after, the Parti Québécois (PQ) had a motion unanimously adopted, the elected representatives of the CAQ included, to prohibit ministers from soliciting political contributions from suppliers and recipients of financial assistance from their ministry – a recommendation of the Charbonneau commission.

The PQ has indicated that a possible PQ government would prohibit its ministers from participating in partisan fundraising activities.

“Political financing should not place elected officials in a conflict of interest,” argued Mr. St-Pierre Plamondon in the press scrum.

“A deputy should not send messages to municipal elected officials saying: ‘what a great opportunity to advance your file, what a great opportunity to meet the minister that you have never managed to meet if you offer us $100 and you take part in our fundraising cocktail.”

Mr. Jolin-Barrette affirmed that both the PQ and the Liberal Party had also previously, when they formed the government, organized fundraising activities by inviting ministers.

He recalled in particular that the QS deputy for Sherbrooke, Christine Labrie, had received a contribution from the mayor of Sherbrooke.

Even the general director of the CAQ, Brigitte Legault, published an open letter on Tuesday to defend the integrity of the party and its fundraising methods.

Thouin and Lévesque

In a message obtained by The Canadian Press last week, Louis-Charles Thouin invited the mayors of his constituency to “combine business with pleasure” in a cocktail where, in exchange for a contribution to the electoral fund of 100 $, they could meet the Minister of Transport, Geneviève Guilbault, on February 8 in Saint-Jacques.

“Geneviève and I will be delighted to welcome you and to be able to discuss with you on various subjects that concern you, including road and collective transport issues,” we could read.

This formulation may appear delicate, since the Ministry of Transport and its minister are in constant contact with municipalities on issues of financing road infrastructure, public transport, road maintenance, new sections, safety, etc.

Faced with the controversy, the cocktail was finally postponed by the CAQ and the Ethics Commissioner of the National Assembly, Ariane Mignolet, announced Monday that she was undertaking an investigation into the Thouin case, at the request of Quebec solidarity.

Mr. Jolin-Barrette announced Tuesday that the CAQ was not going to exclude Mr. Thouin from its caucus for the duration of the investigation.

Also, two weeks ago, Radio-Canada uncovered a controversy affecting the member for Chauveau, Sylvain Lévesque.

A citizen who wanted her MP to advance her file was offered to meet the Minister of Finance, Eric Girard, in exchange for a contribution of $100 to the party fund.

Commissioner Mignolet announced last week that she was undertaking an investigation into Mr. Lévesque’s case.

The electoral law stipulates that the donor to a political party must certify that his “contribution is made from his own property, voluntarily, without compensation or consideration, and that it has not been and will not be the subject of any refund “.

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