Jacques Boissinot La Presse Canadian “It's worrying when the government starts fiddling with public funds for a whim of the Prime Minister who really likes hockey,” reacted the supportive MP for Rosemont, Vincent Marissal.
Québec solidaire will ask the Auditor General of Quebec to investigate the envelope of $5 to $7 million intended to attract the Los Angeles Kings to Quebec next year to play preparatory matches at the Videotron Center.
In a telephone interview with The Canadian Press, the solidarity MP for Rosemont and responsible for the party in matters of ethics and sports, Vincent Marissal, was still stunned by the daily revelations The Press, Saturday morning, according to which the CAQ government used the Capitale-Nationale Region Fund (FRCN), which finances in particular the projects of community and non-profit organizations.
The journalist Tommy Chouinard revealed on Saturday that the fund had been increased by the necessary sum and that the expenditure would be spread over two years given that normally authorized projects cannot exceed three million dollars.
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“We have learned in La Presse that there were all kinds of tricks to release funds which were not at all intended for that, that we did that by decree in secret and that we do this over two years so that it passes,” lists Mr. Marissal, still absent from the National Assembly due to convalescence.
The MP does not hesitate to say that “this looks like a misappropriation of public funds for non-legitimate purposes.”
“It is worrying when the government starts fiddling with public funds for a whim of the Prime Minister who really likes hockey”, continues Mr. Marissal, adding that the management of the FRCN relies in particular on a right of review on the part of municipal elected officials.
“Mayor Marchand didn’t even seem to be aware because it was done by decree,” alleges Mr. Marissal. Everything is crooked in there. »
Solidarity welcomed the few CAQ deputies who themselves questioned the legitimacy of the expenditure. “I congratulate the elected officials who oppose it and I urge them to express their point of view to the Council of Ministers,” he said. It takes courage to challenge Mr. Legault and come out in public. »
A “seeking” behavior
Maurice-Richard's solidarity deputy, Haroun Bouazzi, will also table a motion in the National Assembly at the beginning of next week to ask the government to back down on its controversial investment.
“It's the only thing to do, underlines Vincent Marissal. Frankly, it’s shameful, it’s inexplicable and [it] doesn’t make any sense. Let him [the government] back down, that’s the only thing to do. This is what the population is asking for. I won't give up. »
The member for Rosemont does not believe that this criticized expenditure aims to obtain the return of the Nordiques to Quebec. “It is rather a demonstration that the government is behaving like a beggar when it comes to the NHL,” he says.
Mr. Marissal says he is in favor of the return of a professional hockey team to the capital, but this must not be managed with public funds, he insists.
“It must be done in a manner regulatory, within an accounting framework and within the parameters authorized by the sound management of public funds,” he said.
“The NHL is not Comptoir Emmaüs, it’s a big business that makes good money,” jokes Mr. Marissal, referring to an organization that helps the most deprived, notably through sale of goods and used items that it receives as donations.
Liberals and PQists also stunned
The Liberal Party of Quebec is also stunned of the measure announced by Minister Éric Girard on Wednesday.
“There is no more room for maneuver in the state coffers. We learned this morning that to subsidize the two NHL preparatory matches in Quebec, the Legault government is using a regional fund for projects of businesses and local non-profit organizations, the FRCN,” recalled interim leader Marc Tanguay. , in a long publication on X.
There is no more room for maneuver in the state coffers. We learned this morning that to subsidize the two NHL preparatory matches in Quebec, the Legault government is using a regional fund for projects by local businesses and non-profit organizations,… pic.twitter.com/mlsCxWUIHC— Marc Tanguay (@marc_tanguay) November 18, 2023
“Quebec did not fund NHL games at the Videotron Center in 2017 and 2018. Recently, the Nova Scotia government also spent nothing on the Pittsburgh Penguins’ visit to Halifax. By spending $7M of Quebecers' money in this way, do you still consider [François Legault] to be on the cow's land? », concluded the member for LaFontaine.
Also on mentioning that the saga was going “from getting better and worse (read: worse to worse).”
“In order to give a gift of $5 to $7 million to hockey billionaires, the government used a fund intended for local non-profit organizations (the “National Capital Region Fund”) which it short-circuited the operating rules. Is this a “prudent use of public funds”? With the required transparency? Are we appealing to the intelligence of the people of Quebec and Quebec? It’s up to them to judge,” wrote Mr. Paradis, whose text was shared by his boss, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon.
Duhaime calls for transparency
In the opening speech to the convention of the Conservative Party of Quebec on Saturday morning, leader Éric Duhaime asked that “all documents, meetings, contracts” on this subject be made public by the government.
“They didn’t follow any rules. They respected nothing, without any transparency,” he lamented, quoting Tommy Chouinard’s text.
“It’s indecent what is happening now. Rarely have we seen a government so insensitive to the reality of Quebec,” lamented Mr. Duhaime, who underlined the “irony” that the announcement by Finance Minister Eric Girard took place in the middle of negotiations with the public sector and just days after an economic update where he warned of difficult months ahead.
“I'm not a unionist, but I'm tired of seeing the government waste money. money and then say that he has no money for the world who cannot afford groceries and to pay their employees,” he raged.