Pierre Fitzgibbon complies with ethics commission, likely to return to Quebec cabinet

Quebec's former Minister of Economy and Innovation will escape ministerial purgatory after resolving a conflict of interest -- likely clearing the path to return to that post. 

Terrebonne Member of the National Assembly (MNA) Pierre Fitzgibbon has finally succeeded in complying with the requirements of the Ethics Commissioner, meaning he can regain his place in Quebec's Council of Ministers.

Therefore, it is expected that he will once again become Minister of Economy and Innovation on Wednesday.

He could also be responsible for regional economic development, a file that has been left in the lurch since former minister Marie-Ève Proulx was demoted to the position of MNA in May.

Fitzgibbon was forced to withdraw from Francois Legault's CAQ cabinet in June after being targeted by a fourth report from the Ethics Commissioner, who criticized him for failing to divest himself of shares in two companies doing business with the government, which could place him in an unacceptable conflict of interest situation.

As he was elected in 2018, Fitzgibbon will therefore have taken three years to comply with the code of ethics for National Assembly elected officials.

A government source confirmed Tuesday that during the summer the former minister finally managed to divest himself of the contentious interests he owned in White Star Capital and ImmerVision, companies that are not listed on the stock market.

In June, Fitzgibbon explained that he had not received any meaningful offers for his shares in these companies. If he had accepted the offers he received, he estimated his losses at more than $1 million.

Ethics Commissioner Ariane Mignolet repeatedly came back to Fitzgibbon over the past few years to tell him that he had no choice but to comply with the code and respect the law, like all other elected officials.

When he refused to comply, the commission recommended that the minister lose his right to sit in the National Assembly until he had corrected his situation and respected the code of ethics for members of the National Assembly.

Legault reluctantly withdrew his Minister of the Economy, a pillar of his government, and promised to reinstate him as soon as his financial situation was corrected.

In the meantime, Finance Minister Eric Girard was holding both positions.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Aug. 31, 2021. 

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