Photo: Christine Muschi The Canadian Press The Minister of Education, Bernard Drainville
The Minister of Education, Bernard Drainville, acknowledged Wednesday that he had received requests from donors who wanted to advance their projects during fundraising cocktails of the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ).
Faced with the accumulation of cases of MPs who solicit donations by highlighting the presence of ministers at fundraising cocktails, the government has mandated Mr. Drainville to recall that it is he who undertook the last reform of electoral financing, while he was Minister responsible for Democratic Institutions, a position he held under the banner of the Parti Québécois from 2012 to 2014.
After praising the system put in place, Mr. Drainville assured that it was impossible to buy the influence of a CAQ minister with a donation of $100.
The minister, however, recognized that donors sometimes take advantage of the access that CAQ funding cocktails provide to promote their projects.
“It’s true that in certain cases, they will tell you: listen, I have such and such a project,” he said in a press briefing. We listen to them, but you don't come out of there saying: you're going to have this, you're going to have that. »
Mr. Drainville claimed that his decision to lower the limit on political contributions from $1,000 to $100 made it possible to maintain a balance between public financing, established for each party based on the votes received, and popular financing from voters.
“We must stop peddling the idea that you can buy a minister in Quebec with a $100 donation,” he said. Does anyone in Quebec think that you can buy a minister with a donation of $100 ? »
Mr. Drainville recalled that the hypothesis of 100% public financing, without contribution from voters, had been rejected at the time of its reform.
“We want citizens to be able to continue to support their deputies in fundraising activities, or otherwise to ensure that citizens can give their support to an idea, a party,” he said. he said.
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Review the Electoral Law
At his side, the current Minister responsible for Democratic Institutions, Jean-François Roberge , showed himself ready to review the Electoral Law and to debate the end of individual contributions.
“If perceptions change and if the oppositions want us to reopen the discussion, if the oppositions are ready to say “let’s give up on public financing”, if everyone agrees, I am ready to open this discussion as Minister of Democratic Institutions. »
In a statement, the Chief Electoral Officer (DGE) showed himself ready to debate possible changes to the Electoral Act, which does not prohibit ministers from participating in fundraising activities.
“The presence of a minister at a fundraising activity, however, raises the risk that an exchange occurring within the framework of the activity could result in a decision having the appearance of constituting an advantage provided in exchange of a contribution”, indicated the spokesperson for the DGE Gabriel Sauvé-Lesiège.
We must stop peddling the idea that you can buy a minister in Quebec with a donation of $100. Does anyone in Quebec think that you can buy a minister with a donation of $100 ?
— Bernard Drainville
Wednesday, Québec solidaire asked the Ethics Commissioner of the National Assembly, Ariane Mignolet, to investigate the practices of CAQ deputies soliciting donations by highlighting the presence of ministers at political financing cocktails.
Solidarity MP Vincent Marissal wants the commissioner to look into the cases of Yves Montigny and Gilles Bélanger.
Two other CAQ deputies, Louis-Charles Thouin and Sylvain Lévesque, are already the subject of investigations by Ms. Mignolet, after requests from Québec solidaire.
New information concerning Mr. Montigny and Mr. Bélanger has been released since Tuesday, the day Parliament resumed, when the question of political financing dominated the debates.
The PQ leader, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, accused the CAQ of wanting to create a diversion by framing the debate on popular financing.
“We are asking the CAQ to focus on the essential, to stop ethically questionable practices, and everyone will be happy,” he said.< /p>
On Tuesday, Mr. St-Pierre Plamondon spoke out in favor of prohibiting the participation of ministers in fundraising cocktails as a means of avoiding any appearance of influence peddling.