Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press Éric Duhaime believes that Mr. Legault acted hastily by excluding the actor on the basis of his comments.
Prime Minister François Legault flouted the presumption of innocence of French actor Gérard Depardieu by removing him from the National Order of Quebec without taking into account the rules which reserve this sanction for people convicted by courts, Conservative Leader Éric Duhaime said Thursday.
Mr. Duhaime said Mr. Legault was right to denounce Mr. Depardieu's “scandalous remarks” reported in a documentary broadcast in France earlier this month.
“Everyone was surprised and disappointed when we saw Mr. Depardieu’s comments,” he said in an interview. These were comments that were unacceptable, I think there is unanimity on that. Where there is a problem is in the haste. »
Le Devoir revealed Wednesday that the Internal Management Regulations of the National Order of Quebec only provide for removal in the event that a of its members is convicted following a legal process.
Mr. Duhaime believes that Mr. Legault acted hastily by excluding the actor on the basis of his comments. According to the Conservative leader, the Quebec government should have waited to see if allegations of sexual assault against Mr. Depardieu led to his conviction before withdrawing his honorary decorations from the Order of Quebec, of which he had been knighted in 2002.
Without doubting the allegations against the actor, Mr. Duhaime judges that the Quebec government is exposing itself to prosecution by proceeding in such a hasty manner.
“Imagine for two seconds that a court clears Mr. Depardieu,” he explained. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty. The presumption of innocence exists in our justice system. »
Mr. Legault announced his decision in mid-December after receiving a recommendation from the Council of the National Order of Quebec based on its internal regulations. The Prime Minister then stated that after having read the actor's comments, he had asked the Order to make a recommendation.
According to Mr. Duhaime, the Prime Minister interfered politically in the functioning of this organization.
“It’s obvious that it puts undue pressure on the members who are supposed to decide in a non-partisan way,” he said.
Mr. Duhaime believes that Mr. Legault's decision reflects his weak position in public opinion, which harms Quebec's image.
“We seem to have a government that is amateur,” he explained.
Further details will follow.