CAQ vote to reject ethics commissioner's report on Fitzgibbon

As promised, the Legault government voted against the ethics commissioner's report that imposed sanctions on Terrebonne MNA Pierre Fitzgibbon for his repeated breaches of the code of ethics.

For the report to be ratified, two-thirds of the parliamentarians would have had to vote in favour, but the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) has a majority in the House, with 75 seats out of 125, so it won the vote against the three opposition parties.

Fitzgibbon resigned as economy minister on Wednesday after the scathing report tabled by Commissioner Ariane Mignolet.

She recommended that he be banned from the House if he did not sell his holdings in two companies as minister or place them in a blind trust.

Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault explained that her party is voting against the "substance" of the report because she believes it contains a "contradiction."

If the minister puts his assets in a blind trust, he will not be allowed to instruct the trustee to sell the holdings so that he can return to the cabinet.

"The MNA wants to sell his shares by negotiating a good price himself," said Premier Francois Legault.

"By voting against the commissioner's report, the CAQ of Mr. Legault shows an 'unprecedented arrogance,'" said official opposition leader Dominique Anglade Friday morning.

She accused the premier of disrespecting institutions and having an 'elastic ethic.'

Anglade quoted Legault as saying in 2018 that one cannot take a report from the ethics commissioner 'piecemeal,' that is, accepting bits and pieces and rejecting others.

"Mr. Legault is engaging in 'double speak,'" she said, also describing the premier's attitude in the House as "ultra-paternalistic."

When a reporter reminded her that the Quebec Liberal Party (QLP) had also voted against a report by the ethics commissioner in 2018, Anglade said the party had sent a "bad message."

"I think the ethics commissioner's reports should be supported," she said. "Yes, that's a commitment I'm making. The reality is, frankly, I'm aware of the message it sends about respect for our institutions. (...) I think we sent the wrong message, yes," she acknowledged.

According to Guilbault, "it's easy to say that after the fact."

Guilbault also pointed out that the commissioner herself had already recommended changes to the code of ethics.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on June 4, 2021. 

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