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The Director General of Elections suspects the CAQ of having solicited illegal contributions

Photo: Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press Elizabeth Rivera and her husband, Antoine Bittar, recounted two weeks ago how the staff of the MP for Soulanges approached them by putting forward an opportunity to meet the Minister of Transport, Geneviève Guilbault, during an activity of political financing for the benefit of the CAQ last fall.

The Director General of Elections (DGE) has opened an investigation to determine whether the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) violated the Election Act by allowing the possibility of meeting a minister in return for political contributions.

DGE spokesperson Julie St-Arnaud Drolet confirmed Monday that the investigation concerns a financing cocktail in the constituency of Soulanges, where a bereaved couple campaigning for tougher rules against drunk driving was invited to meet the Minister of Transport, Geneviève Guilbault.

Last week, the CAQ decided to directly reimburse a donation totaling $200 to the Rivera-Bittar couple, which is not permitted by the Election Act. Questioned on this subject, the DGE announced Monday that an investigation had been opened.

Ms. St-Arnaud-Drolet explained that this investigation, first revealed by Radio-Canada, concerns how the two $100 contributions were obtained.

“Public information leads us to believe that the two contributions were made in exchange for consideration, thus making these contributions non-compliant,” the spokesperson said.

Article 90 of the Electoral Act stipulates that a contribution must be made voluntarily, without compensation or consideration and cannot be refunded.

Possible infringement

The decision to conduct verifications was made based on public statements by donors Elizabeth Rivera and Antoine Bittar about the funding cocktail.

“The way in which donors reported in the public space that they had been approached, their perception, makes us say that it is worth looking at,” said Ms. St-Arnaud-Drolet. Because indeed, if the presence of a minister had been offered in return for the contribution of a voter at that time, there could be a violation of the law. »

It was not possible to know whether the CAQ is the target of other investigations for similar cases which have made headlines in recent weeks.

“I’ll let you follow your conclusions,” the spokesperson said. For my part, we are maintaining our general line as usual, we are neither confirming nor denying the investigation. »

Also read

  • The CAQ reimburses the bereaved couple
  • The CAQ in embarrassment because of a new fundraising activity
  • The CAQ closes the door to an intensification of the fight against drunk driving

The DGE exceptionally decided to disclose the existence of an investigation in Soulanges due to questions asked by journalists on the CAQ's decision to reimburse the two donors.

“If someone had just asked us to investigate, we would have said ‘we do not confirm, we do not deny’,” explained Ms. St-Arnaud-Drolet.< /p>

Other controversies

The only way for a party to reimburse a non-compliant contribution is to return it to the DGE who acts as an intermediary between voters and political parties. The current procedure, however, provides that this sum is then paid into the government's consolidated fund and not to the voter who made it.

In the current situation, the payment made by the CAQ to the couple is considered by the DGE as compensation which must be declared as a party expense.

Elizabeth Rivera and her husband, Antoine Bittar, recounted two weeks ago how the staff of the MP for Soulanges, Marilyne Picard, approached them by putting forward an opportunity to meet Ms. Guilbault , last fall.

The couple had previously requested the MP's help to obtain that the sanctions against drunk driving be imposed from the threshold of 50 mg per 100 ml of blood and not just 80 mg per 100 ml of blood as c is currently the case.

Since January, the CAQ has found itself faced with several controversial cases of fundraising activities for which the presence of ministers was put forward.

The Ethics Commissioner of the National Assembly, Ariane Mignolet, opened two investigations into the activities of two deputies.

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