Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon on Thursday became the premier in Quebec history to be reprimanded by the National Assembly for a conflict of interest.
Elected officials at the Salon Bleu voted in favor of the reprimand recommended by the Ethics Commissioner for meetings held with a lobbyist friend who had just bought shares in a company, Move Protein, of which he wished to part with.
As Prime Minister François Legault had announced, the CAQ supported the sanction, like the other groups represented in Quebec. It was therefore adopted unanimously; only Minister Fitzgibbon, absent during the vote, abstained from voting.
When filing the report, Mr. Legault said he was first “angry” when reading the commissioner’s report, but was then reassured by the explanations of his minister.
Speaking at the Blue Room on Wednesday, on the eve of the vote, Minister Fitzgibbon denied having acted badly. “I have never placed myself in a situation of conflict of interest or favored my personal interests,” he said. I have always taken care to direct Mr. Laperrière to the normal and usual procedures. He received no special treatment because of our friendly relationship. I have never favored or even favored him. ”
Despite everything, he added in the same breath that he would no longer place himself in such a situation. “In the future, prudence will advise me from now on not to speak to lobbyists who are in debt to me”, he added.
In the past, only one elected official – the ex-Caquist who became independent Claude Surprenant – had been blamed by the National Assembly. It is therefore the first time that a member of the Council of Ministers has been the subject of an ethics reprimand.
A significant sanction of $ 25,000 had been recommended against former Liberal minister Pierre Paradis in 2018, but the Couillard government at the time had put its weight as a majority party to beat the commissioner’s recommendation.