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The past of Minister Randy Boissonnault questioned

Photo: Adrian Wyld The Canadian Press The past as a “journalist and political commentator” of the federal Minister of Official Languages, Randy Boissonnault, no longer appeared in his presentation as a candidate in 2021.

Lisa Denis in Ottawa

Published at 0:00

  • Canada

The federal Minister of Official Languages, Randy Boissonnault, campaigned by presenting himself as a successful entrepreneur and journalist. After his business relationships were placed under the microscope of the ethics committee due to the appearance of conflicts of interest, Le Devoir found information which raise questions about his past as a journalist.

For two months, Mr. Boissonnault has been at the heart of an ethical controversy. According to revelations from Global News, he was, “for more than a year” after the start of his second mandate, listed as director of a company that sold millions of dollars of medical protective equipment to the Quebec government during the pandemic.

Mr. Boissonnault, who claims to have left his post as soon as he was elected in 2021, is experiencing an administrative delay in updating information concerning him. But messages sent in September 2022 and obtained by Global News, in which two people plan a call with a partner” named “Randy,” call into question whether he – involvement, and could lead the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, Konrad W. von Finckenstein, to open an investigation. investigation.

A journalist's past ?

Mr. Boissonnault's business relationships are not not the only elements of his past that are called into question. According to digital archives consulted by Le Devoir, the minister ran in 2015 and in 2019 as a former “journalist and political commentator for Radio-Canada and Lesaffaires”.

A morally questionable assertion, according to the Professional Federation of Journalists of Quebec (FPJQ), since Mr. Boissonnault never signed a journalistic article in these two media.

“His name does not appear [in our systems],” says Radio-Canada spokesperson Guylaine O’Farrell. Mr. Boissonnault, on the other hand, had the “status of columnist” at the Edmonton station, “in the 2000s.”

“I didn’t know that he had worked for us,” responds the editor-in-chief of Affaires, Marine Thomas. However, newspaper archives allow us to find opinion texts signed by Randy Boissonnault from 2005 to 2007, which he himself describes as “chronicle[s]”.

Through his “collaboration” with Lesaffaires, the one who signed himself as “president of Xennex Venture Catalysts and the Alberta Economic Chamber” said in one of his texts that he wanted to “shake up some preconceived ideas” about the province.

Contacted by Le Devoir, Randy Boissonnault did not respond to our interview requests. His past as a “journalist and political commentator”, also highlighted by the Liberal Party in 2015, no longer appeared in the candidate's presentation in 2021.

Not a protected title

“It seems obvious to me that he was not a journalist, commented in an interview at Devoir the president of the FPJQ, Éric-Pierre Champagne. Anyone can send open letters to the media. […] That does not make the person a journalist. »

Mr. Champagne explains that, for a columnist to be considered a journalist in the eyes of the FPJQ, journalism must be their activity as well as their main source of income.

This professional title is, however, not “protected,” he adds. “Right now, anyone can call themselves a journalist. Afterwards, it's a bit of a moral question. »

« Maybe if you go before the voters saying that you were a journalist, then you weren't, well, the voters may ask questions. »

Crisis of confidence

So, what is M . Boissonnault had something to gain ? “I wonder,” replied Mr. Champagne. Journalists are never in the professions most appreciated by the public, on the contrary. »

And this way of “playing with words” does not help to ensure that the public regains its “trust” in the media. “There are many explanations for this crisis, but it is certain that the fact that anyone can claim to be a journalist does not help, he says.

“It transmits false information to the public. It contributes a little to the problem that we see, that for people, it becomes more and more difficult to distinguish who is a journalist and who is not. »

With Boris Proulx

This report is supported by the Local Journalism Initiative, funded by the Government of Canada.

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