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The CAQ renounces popular financing

Photo: Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press François Legault estimated Thursday that the value of voters' contributions to the CAQ is approximately one million dollars. “It’s still not nothing,” he said. “Integrity is too important to me, so we’re giving up that part.”

Ready to finish the work of René Lévesque, Prime Minister François Legault announced Friday that the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) would give up approximately one million dollars per year in voter donations in order to put an end to the controversy over its financing practices.

Mr. Legault took note of the doubts raised by the participation of ministers in his government in fundraising cocktails that have made headlines in recent days.

“There is one thing that I am not capable of accepting, and that is that my integrity is being called into question, the integrity of my party, of our deputies, of our government,” he declared. at a press briefing. “For me, that’s the most valuable thing, integrity. I am announcing that from now on, the CAQ will renounce private financing. »

Mr. Legault invited other political parties to do the same until a solution is agreed with the Director General of Elections of Quebec, who himself expressed reservations about the appearances created by the participation of ministers in fundraising activities and access that donors can obtain through political contribution.

“A political party that receives private donations, there can be an appearance that we feel obliged to listen more to these people,” he admitted.

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The CAQ will rely solely on public funding that the State pays to political parties in proportion to the number of votes received, which already constitutes the majority of their budget.

Mr. Legault estimated that the value of voter contributions to his party is around a million dollars. “It’s still not nothing,” he said. “It’s too important to me, integrity, so we’re giving up that part. »

Mr. Legault affirmed that the support of other political parties will be necessary to modify the Electoral Act, an option mentioned earlier this week by the government, whose parliamentary re-entry was overshadowed by the issue of political financing. “There is a growing tendency in Quebec to move towards public funding, to complete the work of René Lévesque,” ​​he said.

Memories of fraud

In the House, the government did not hold back from dishing out blows to the liberal opposition, which criticized Mr. Legault's decision to give up on popular financing. “If there is a party that has committed fraud, it is the Liberal Party of Quebec,” accused the CAQ parliamentary leader, Simon Jolin-Barrette.

Mr. Legault clarified this line of attack in a subsequent intervention. He reminded interim Liberal leader Marc Tanguay of the troubles of former minister Tony Tomassi, sentenced to community service for fraud against the government. “Does he remember a certain Tony Tomassi, who was Minister of Families, then who said: “If you make a donation to the Liberal Party, we will give you a daycare license” ?? he asked.

1 million dollars This is the estimated sum of voter contributions to the CAQ

He then pointed out that Mr. Tanguay succeeded Mr. Tomassi in the Montreal riding of LaFontaine when he was first elected MP. “I know that it was a bit of a disappointment to the leader of the official opposition that Tony Tomassi was getting screwed, because he was the one who replaced him in LaFontaine County,” he said .

Mr. Tanguay reacted by repeating: “It’s cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap…”

The Liberal leader attracted these remarks after denouncing Mr. Legault's lack of leadership and rigor. “For the financing of political parties, of the CAQ, they are losing control, they are not capable of enforcing the law, so they are not going to do any financing at all,” he said. declared during his discussions with the Prime Minister.

The leader of the Parti Québécois (PQ), Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, was not spared. The Prime Minister declared that in a book written in 2009, Mr. St-Pierre Plamondon put forward the abolition of popular financing. “Our decision has been made, we think, a bit like the leader of the PQ thought a few years ago, he wrote that funding should be completely public in Quebec,” he said. That's what he thought, but we see that the leader of the PQ often changes his mind. »

“Panic Gesture”

In a press briefing that followed, Mr. St-Pierre Plamondon affirmed that François Legault's party made “an act of panic” on Thursday, rather than stopping “to dangle access to a minister in exchange of participation in a fundraising cocktail”. “That’s all we’re asking of the CAQ, and not to abolish popular financing,” he declared.

Mr. St-Pierre Plamondon affirmed that after having developed the hypothesis of abolishing popular financing in a book, in 2009, he had not made this proposal when he was a candidate for the leadership of the PQ. “I didn’t say that, I spoke of a hypothesis,” he said.

The co-spokesperson for Québec solidaire, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, affirmed that the CAQ is trying to create a diversion by framing the debate around popular financing, which should remain, according to him. “Mr. Legault is painted into a corner, he is criticized from all sides and he is looking for a way to create a diversion,” he said. The problem in Quebec is not that citizens make a small donation to encourage one party or another. The problem is when parties do not respect the law or the spirit of the law. »

The leader of the Conservative Party of Quebec, Éric Duhaime, also stressed the importance of maintaining popular financing. “We cannot, because a party does not have ethical rules, say to other parties: you are going to follow another way of financing your political training,” he noted.

With Dave Noël

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