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A vice-president of the National Assembly defends his neutrality

Photo: Jacques Boissinot Archives The Canadian Press MP Sylvain Lévesque, surrounded by Prime Minister François Legault and the Secretary General of the National Assembly, Siegfried Peters, during his swearing-in on October 18, 2022

A vice-president of the National Assembly, Sylvain Lévesque, affirms that he does not intend to temporarily withdraw from his functions during an investigation related to his political financing activities.

Mr. Lévesque, also a CAQ deputy for Chauveau, affirmed to the Devoir that his integrity remains intact to chair the debates at the Salon bleu, contrary to what the conservative leader, Éric, claims Duhaime.

“I’m not considering leaving my position at all, at all, not at all,” he said in an interview. There is no link between the audit that will be carried out on the use of National Assembly property, to promote a fundraising cocktail, and my function. My neutrality is not affected at all. »

To avoid placing himself in a delicate situation during the investigation, Mr. Lévesque, however, was open to adjustments that would preserve appearances. “If there are additional precautions to take to avoid putting myself in debates related to my personal situation, it is certain that I will exclude myself from this type of debate,” he said.

Mr. Lévesque gave an example of the debates he could avoid. “If there were a debate on ethics or on the functioning of the code of ethics, it is certain that being myself under investigation on one of the aspects, I would be careful not to be in a situation of preside over a debate where I myself am judge and party,” he explained.

Public goods

The Ethics Commissioner of the National Assembly, Ariane Mignolet, announced Monday the opening of an investigation following a recent report by Radio-Canada.

According to the information broadcast, a citizen wishing to advance a file to the Minister of Finance, Eric Girard, was invited by the office of deputy of Sylvain Lévesque to pay $100 to participate in a cocktail of partisan financing where the minister would be present.

The investigation must determine whether, in relation to this invitation, public resources of the National Assembly were used for partisan purposes, which is prohibited by the code of ethics for elected officials.

Mr. Duhaime, whose party is not represented in the National Assembly, demanded Tuesday that Mr. Lévesque be temporarily “suspended” from his duties as second vice-president of the National Assembly due to the particular requirement of neutrality of this function.

“Mr. Lévesque no longer has the necessary impartiality and credibility to assume his duties as vice-president, as long as an investigation is opened regarding his partisan actions,” he said. he declared in a press release. The allegations against him are serious. »

Last week, before the opening of Mr. Mignolet's investigation, Mr. Duhaime had already expressed reservations. “The president and vice-president of the National Assembly, normally they rise a little above partisanship,” he said. There is nothing more partisan than starting to use employees of your riding office to sell CAQ tickets to have access to a minister to talk about an issue. »

The Parti Québécois did not wish to comment on Mr. Lévesque’s situation. The Liberal Party of Quebec and Québec solidaire did not respond to requests from Devoir, as did the President of the National Assembly, Nathalie Roy.< /p>

A first

Sylvain Lévesque, the first member of the presidency targeted by an ethics investigation, refrained from commenting directly on the allegations against him.

Mr. Lévesque said Tuesday that he is currently carrying out consultations with the National Assembly to validate his intention to remain in office. “For the moment, there is not a political party in the National Assembly that has requested that I withdraw from my functions,” he said. The investigation has no connection with my role as vice-president. »

Mr. Lévesque will make a final decision by the start of the parliamentary session scheduled for next Tuesday. “If I’m here, it will be because I made the decision to do what I just told you,” he said. If I'm not there, I'll have announced it, that's obvious. »

Even if his decision is not made, he warns that he is not thinking of temporarily withdrawing as requested by Mr. Duhaime. “That’s not what I’m saying,” he warned. I consult to ensure that all the rules of use and procedure of the National Assembly are respected. »

Sylvain Lévesque claimed that all vice-presidents engage in political financing. “That’s allowed too. How do you expect that in four years a deputy will represent himself, be able to function and have an electoral campaign ? »

Unlike the president, vice-presidents participate in the caucuses of their parliamentary wing. The Coalition Avenir Québec caucus opens Wednesday in Sherbrooke.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116