'Mutual agreement': Quebec junior cabinet minister Marie-Eve Proulx resigns amid harassment allegations

Quebec Junior Economic Development Minister Marie-Eve Proulx responds to the Opposition, during question period Tuesday, February 5, 2019 at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

Quebec's regional economic development minister has resigned following allegations she psychologically harassed her staff.

Marie-Eve Proulx met with Premier François Legault in the morning.

“Let's just say it's by mutual agreement," said Legault. Proulx remains the MNA for Côte-du-Sud, a district she won in 2018. She was also minister responsible for the Chaudiere-Appalaches and Bas-St-Laurent regions.

She has been the subject of controversy in recent months and more than ten people in her office have been dismissed or resigned.

Legault says he was informed about problems in her office in February 2020 and she was assigned a coach to help her manage her staff, but he says the situation did not sufficiently improve.

“For me, it's not negotiable. Everywhere I've worked in my life, whether it was when I was president of Air Transit or since I've been in politics -- we can have high expectations, we can work hard, but it must be done respectfully, and with good humour,” said the premier. “It's important that we have fun at work, and for me an organisation, whether it's private or public, is like a small family. Everybody has to, to be careful, so that's not the kind of climate that I like to see."

After a confidential settlement, Proulx avoided appearing before a labour tribunal in April to respond to two complaints from a former riding office employee.

Opposition parties on Tuesday said they were surprised that Legault took so long to react.

“We can't have people who engage in psychological harassment sitting in cabinet," Liberal Party leader Dominique Anglade told a news conference.

“I'm very curious to know what happened," she said, "but I don't know what happened," she added, "and I don't know why.”

“I am very curious to know why we… turned a blind eye for so many years," said PQ leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon.

“Psychological harassment is illegal," said Québec solidaire co-spokesperson Manon Massé.

On Monday, Proulx suggested that the latest resignation among her staff, her press secretary, was a matter of internal management and that she did not wish to comment.

Proulx's responsibilities will be redistributed at a later date.

- This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 4, 2021.

SIGN UP NOW

Stay up-to-date and in-the-know by subscribing to one of our newsletters